The 2021-2022 NCAA men’s basketball season will mark the end of an era in a little considered way. Art Hyland has been the secretary rules editor for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Rules committee for 11 years, and this upcoming season will be his final at that post. He will be succeeded by Jeff O’Malley, who is currently the interim athletic director at Marshall University.
Despite being in an administrative role at a school currently, O’Malley has a ton of practical experience that makes him a logical candidate for the role. He’s been an official at varying levels of college basketball since 1997, and was tabbed to officiate the Division II men’s basketball championship last season. He has been enthralled with officiating and basketball regulations for the majority of his life, and even refereed games as an undergraduate at the University of Miami (Ohio).
“Being a referee for as long as I have been, I’ve come to love everything about it,” O’Malley professed. Via NCAA.org
The great thing for O’Malley is that he’s already extremely well versed in the current contents of the rulebook. He won’t need a long time to get up to speed with how the game is currently officiated, although he will naturally spend time with the outgoing Hyland this season.
While O’Malley won’t physically be on the court during games, the decisions he might make, and how he expresses them in the rulebook, could have a large impact on the product fans see on the hardwood. It will be interesting to see whether he tries to address some of the issues that have taken centerstage in all levels of basketball recently.
“Unnatural” basketball moves, such as stopping on a dime and having a defender run into the offensive player’s back has been widely discussed as detrimental to the game. The amount of time it takes a player to shoot a free throw was highlighted by the deliberate routine of Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo. There’s also the realm of instant replay review, which has been known to slow down the pace of a game down the stretch.
O’Malley might not try to re-invent the wheel, and rightfully so—college basketball has been an exciting product for many decades. But he will be faced with decisions regarding more modern issues affecting the evolution of basketball as a whole. How he, and the rules committee, decide to deal with them will be one of the biggest storylines to watch.