At an average basketball game, referees interact with head coaches and players quite frequently — from informing coaches why a foul was called to telling players to get out of the key to avoid a violation.
In the instance of Auburn Mountainview Head Coach Alyse Lacey, she believes that she was intentionally ignored by officials in the Lions’ 57-20 loss to Hazen on Dec. 19.
She wouldn’t name a specific example, but, “to simply put it, I am tired of being ignored as a head coach because I am female,” Lacey said.
“I am frustrated with the ongoing issue because it is an ongoing issue. I think male coaches get treated differently,” Lacey said. There is some truth to that — boys coaches routinely get multiple warnings from officials to back up off the floor, or that a coach is doing too much.
After timeouts and fouls in the game against Hazen, Lacey felt that she was left on an island and ignored by the officials who called the game. In the fourth quarter, Lacey was given a bench warning, which was followed by a highly animated conversation with that official.
“It was a culmination of things. As a coach I like to ask questions and get clarifications. I’ll say ‘Hey can you give me some clarification so I can help my athletes.’ But I think it was a culmination of things, trying to get their attention,” Lacey said.
She wasn’t aware that she would be given a warning. Lacey said she was just trying to talk to the officials.
“We hadn’t talked at all at that point. I tried to get their attention multiple times, whether it was a time out or during a free throw. Or asking a question during a free throw: ‘Was she set was she not set?’ I didn’t know it was coming because I hadn’t talked to them yet. I tried to get their attention all game and one little comment set them off,” Lacey said.
When given a time to apologize or explain the lack of communication to Lacey, “he told me I better be careful.”
Coaches will have an adverse opinion than the referees, more often than not. That point isn’t lost with Lacey, but she wants to work toward a compromise when she is on the floor.
“I understand I am going to have a different perspective than refs at one point or another. But we should have a professional enough relationship to work together to put the best game together as coaches and refs. But if they aren’t willing to engage with me and help my athletes avoid fouls — that’s kind of my job to have that relationship with referees,” said Lacey.
Lacey’s claim is that because she is a female head coach, the referees treated her differently. To her point, after making her case to the officials that she wasn’t being kept in the loop or heard after calls, her dad (assistant coach and athletic director Chris Carr) was sitting on the bench and said something to the officials and was given a technical foul.
“It was pretty frustrating my dad had made a comment (they heard). It was kind of frustrating they heard him, but the whole game I had been trying to get their attention and they couldn’t hear me,” Lacey said.
She noted that it absolutely was confirmation that the referees were intentionally ignoring her.
In the postgame handshake line with Hazen Head Coach Shannon Rance, Lacey discussed the game, but specifics of the conversation Lacey couldn’t speak on. But Lacey summed up their conversation like, “Whew, that was a rough one.”
In regard to any action taken against the referees who were officiating, there is something in the works. Lacey could not comment to specifics.