NCAA switches officials at halftime of NC State-Chattanooga game over ‘background conflict’

An official was pulled at halftime of Saturday’s NC State-Chattanooga first-round women’s NCAA Tournament game, a change that typically only happens if an official is injured during the course of the game.

Regarding the change, the NCAA gave reporters on site a statement that read in part: “It was learned after the game had started that Umpire 2 Tommi Paris had a background conflict that, if known, would prevent her from working that assigned game. The decision was made to move Angelica Suffren, who had worked the first game of the sessions, into the Umpire 2 position because it provided the most on-court experience and allowed the game to maintain a full officiating crew, plus standby.”

Paris’ LinkedIn profile shows that she received a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Officials are not supposed to have any conflicts with either team in the game. In this situation, both the NCAA should’ve made sure she was not assigned to this game and Paris should’ve disclosed her own personal conflict. First-round officiating assignments were delivered to officials last weekend. It’s unclear why neither the NCAA knew this information nor why Paris wouldn’t have brought up the conflict of interest.

Making the matter even murkier is that Paris officiated the regular season Mississippi State-Chattanooga game on Dec. 2, according to the game’s box score.

Additionally, it is unclear why the NCAA decided to insert Suffren into the officiating crew since she had already officiated the Tennessee–Green Bay game earlier in the day, instead of following NCAA procedure in which the pre-chosen standby official would been used as the alternate.

The Athletic has requested further explanation from the NCAA as to why the standby official wasn’t used.

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(Photo: William Howard / USA Today)

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