Can a college basketball game be played without officials? Tennessee Tech and Appalachian State were all ready to play ball tonight, minus one minor detail. With a large crowd ready for action, Appalachian State officials had to break the embarrassing news to a raucous Tennessee Tech crowd: they forgot to call the referees. Teams? Check. Basketball? Check. Fans? Plenty. Referees? Woops.
How this got past them until just before the tip-off is anyone's guess. The contract for the game, however, had a weird stipulation in it leading to confusion. Appalachian State, the away team, was to provide officials for this year's game. Tennessee Tech did its part last year, bringing in Ohio Valley Conference officials for an away game at App. State. Somewhere along the line, Appalachian didn't get the word that the onus fell on them to provide the officials this time around.
Fans were entertained by dizzy bat races, free giveaways and popcorn, but didn't get to see what they came for: a basketball game. Maybe a "call your own fouls" game could've worked. Could an "is there a referee in the house" announcement have been made? Maybe have students from each school call the game. If you're gonna fail, you might as well go out in style.
Fans were offered refunds or vouchers for two free Tennessee Tech games as a result of the oversight. The game against Appalachian State will be made up sometime in the future. Crazy non-conference basketball contracts strike again.