by: John Puglisi, NY, NISOA National Clinician
After at least ninety minutes of running, decision-making and hard work, the officiating crew is faced with the most important task of the game. All officials must review and sign the official NCAA box score form. This task is particular to NCAA soccer and worthy of further discussion.
As background, NCAA Rule 6.4.3 requires the scorekeeper to “obtain the signatures of the referee and the assistant referees on the official NCAA box score form…with complete game information after the game is completed, thus verifying the cards issued, ejection reports and the official score of the game. This shall become the official record of the game (emphasis added by the author).” NCAA Rule 5.4.2 requires the referee to perform this duty as well as reporting, “other matters of game misconduct to the appropriate governing sports authority.”
Most NCAA soccer games are played fairly and without incident. However, officials must be capable of properly executing their duties when significant incidents occur. Experienced referees tell tales of cautions, ejections, fights, suspended games, spectator issues, ineligible players, and problems in the coaching area. From a procedural perspective, these tales are fictitious until they are reported on the NCAA box score form. When these incidents are indicated on the NCAA box score form, they become fact and the official record of the game. As a NCAA soccer official, you must understand the paramount importance of a complete and accurate NCAA box score form. The slogan, “If it’s not on the NCAA box score form, it didn’t happen” applies.
As referees, we prepare ourselves physically and mentally before we step on the field. Before the game, the referee does a “pre-game” with the assistant referees and the alternate official to make sure the entire crew is prepared to deal with common and uncommon events during the game. However, NCAA Rule 6 includes two other game officials, the timekeeper and the scorekeeper. I suggest the traditional “pre-game” should include the timekeeper and scorekeeper. Since this article is focused on the NCAA Box Score Form and the primary role of the scorekeeper is to prepare the NCAA Box Score Form, here are some items that the referee and the scorekeeper should discuss BEFORE the game to make sure the prepared NCAA Box Score Form is accurate:
- Where will the scorekeeper be located during the game? Preferably, the scorekeeper will be on the field near the halfway line or at least be in radio communication with on field game administration staff. In case of an ejection for fighting, the scorekeeper must be notified of the reason for ejection immediately. If the referee cannot locate or communicate with the scorekeeper, there will be unnecessary and avoidable delays restarting the game.
- Will the scorekeeper use a computer to prepare the scoresheet or will they fill out the NCAA Box Score Form by hand? Many institutions are using computer generated scoresheets which can be quickly uploaded to the team’s website. However, the NCAA Rules require the referee, assistant referees and the alternate official to sign the Box Score Form/scoresheet. It is unacceptable when the scorekeeper tracks the game on a computer and does not have an available printer to generate a hard copy of the scoresheet. There is a copy of the NCAA Box Score Form provided in the NCAA Soccer Rules Book and available online at nisoa.com. Officials should carry a blank NCAA Box Score Form in their equipment bag and give it to the scorekeeper before the game, if necessary.
- Determine where the scorekeeper will deliver the scoresheet for official review. Frequently, this is done on the field immediately after the game but if the computer-generated scoresheet is produced remotely, this review may occur in the locker room or other designated location.
The NCAA Box Score Form does not have a separate section for comments, which is unfortunate but only really needed in very unusual circumstances such as a game suspension, ineligible player or serious injury. If these events occur, the officials must note the details on the Box Score Form or scoresheet, even though there is not a specific area to do that.
Remember, preparing and signing a complete and accurate NCAA Box Score Form or scoresheet is often the last duty of the officiating team. Make sure the last thing you do is done right, every time.