Arizona State soccer coach Terri Patraw was quick to acknowledge that the first half of Saturday night’s 1-0 loss against Minnesota was the worst half of soccer her team has ever played.
Patraw went on with the typical post-game comments. She gave Minnesota credit for being a good team, playing well and so forth.
And then she stirred the pot.
“I think it’s unbelievable the University of Minnesota plays with hometown officials,” she said. “The Big Ten, a conference with the money it has, is playing with local officials. It’s unheard of.
“I’ll never come to a Big Ten school again unless they’re going to guarantee they’ll have out-of-state officials.”
Patraw, who grew up and lives part time in Minnesota and followed the Gophers since their inception in 1991, wouldn’t say that having local officials changed the outcome of the game. But she did cite a couple of instances where the Sun Devils should have been awarded free kicks in the second half.
Officials from the Big Ten did not return phone calls to comment on Patraw’s complaints, but Gophers coach Sue Montagne defended the Big Ten’s officiating policies.
“We don’t schedule our officials,” she said. “They’re scheduled through the Big Ten. This is a non-conference game, so we had local officials, but even for conference games sometimes we have local officials. Sometimes we have officials from Chicago or Wisconsin, so it’s totally random.”
According to Patraw, Pac-10 schools fly in various referees for their games, something she feels should be done in the Big Ten and the rest of the NCAA.
“For the amount of money universities are putting into their programs, these are people’s careers and kids’ livelihoods,” Patraw said. “You’re going to tell me the Minnesota Gophers hockey team is playing with local officials or the Minnesota football team has Minnesota officials? I don’t think so.”
Movin’ on up
The Gophers’ 2-0 start, albeit against the lesser powers of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Arizona State, moved the Gophers up to 22nd in the NSCAA poll this week.
They will try and keep themselves afloat in the rankings with a game Friday night at Iowa State and one at home with Southern Methodist on Sunday afternoon.
No. 5 Penn State (2-0) and No. 14 Wisconsin (2-0-2) are the only other two Big Ten teams ranked.
Mark Heller covers soccer and welcomes comments at [email protected]