The Southeastern Conference announced its new head of men’s basketball officials on Monday.
It’s a familiar face. Dr. Robert “Jake” Bell, an SEC official from the 1970s to the early 2000s, has returned to the conference to coordinate its officiating crews.
Bell replaces Gerald Boudreaux, who was let go in April. He has served as the Coordinator of Basketball Officials for the Atlantic Sun Conference since 2006 and of the Southern Atlantic Association since 2012. He also worked as the Coordinator of Men’s Basketball Officials for the Mid-South Conference from 1996-2000.
“We are pleased to have someone of Jake’s experience and background to lead the SEC’s men’s basketball officiating program.” SEC commissioner Mike Slive said. “His experience as an official and a coordinator will help guide an already solid officiating program. His appointment has the unanimous support of the conference’s 14 athletic directors and 14 head men’s basketball coaches.”
Said Bell: “To be a part of the SEC again is a dream opportunity for me. I feel so pleased to be part of such a great organization. My experience with the SEC dates back to the 1970s when Cliff Harper (former SEC Associate Commissioner) hired me to officiate in this league. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I look forward to getting started.”
Bell will face a number of challenges in his first season at the helm of SEC officials. The NCAA is contemplating a number of rules changes to open up offense in the college game, including reducing the shot clock from 35 to 30 seconds and an adjustment to the block-charge rules to discourage flopping. Under the proposed change, a defender will have to be set earlier, before an offensive player begins his upward motion to shoot or pass — not before the offensive player is in the air, as in the past.
Another challenge for Bell will be dealing with the antics of Ole Miss rising senior guard Marshall Henderson. Boudreaux admitted last March that officiating crews missed a potential technical on Henderson when he motioned a Gator chomp into the crowd during the Rebels’ 66-63 upset of the Gators in the SEC Tournament title game. Henderson also incited a near-riot following a game at Auburn by waving his jersey and taunting the student section shortly after a 63-61 win.