Pac-12 athletic directors voted Wednesday to take additional steps to address the football officiating controversy that’s been stewing since it was revealed the conference office influenced replay decisions in a game between Washington State and USC last month.
Following the recommendations of an internal review, the league said it will develop a comprehensive protocol that establishes the instant replay supervisor as the final authority on calls reviewed by the centralized command center in San Francisco. The Pac-12 also said it would impose disciplinary measures on “certain Pac-12 personnel responsible for the inadequate procedures” without identifying who was being punished or how.
The controversy has been simmering since Yahoo Sports obtained and published an internal report in which replay official Gary McNanna wrote that a third party influenced officials’ decision not to call a targeting penalty. That third party was revealed to be Woodie Dixon, the Pac-12’s general counsel and senior vice president of business affairs.
Speaking at halftime of Oregon’s game against Washington State last Saturday, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott praised Dixon and said he remains in good standing with the conference.
“Woodie is held in very high regard by our schools. He’s held in very high regard nationally and by me,” Scott said. “There was a mistake that was made here, there’s no question about that.”
In the officials’ report obtained by Yahoo, it was revealed that Dixon called into the replay command center to express his opinion that a hit by Washington State’s Logan Tago on USC quarterback JT Daniels should not be flagged for targeting, contrary to the opinion of officials in the booth. Later in the game, a helmet-to-helmet hit by USC linebacker Porter Gustin on Washington State quarterback Gardner Minshew also was not flagged for targeting.
The controversy escalated when Yahoo published text message exchanges between Scott and Washington State coach Mike Leach in which Leach called Dixon “a coward” and questioned the Pac-12’s commitment to player safety.
“I take great exception to any suggestion that player safety is not a high, high priority to us,” Scott said Saturday.
In a joint statement, the Pac-12 athletic directors endorsed the additional steps recommended by the league’s internal review.
“Moving forward, we have confidence in the integrity of our process and the personnel charged with monitoring the process,” the statement said.