DEMAREE: Basketball leftovers from March

It was a Thursday afternoon in March during one of the biggest events in the state of Kentucky, the Kentucky High School Athletic Association state basketball tournament. Rumors started flying around Rupp Arena that Tubby Smith was in route to Minnesota to take the University of Minnesota head-coaching job. The moment that became fact, everything related to the tournament became anti-climactic.

The surprise resignation set off a firestorm of activity that consumed all the sportswriters that covered Kentucky Wildcat athletics. It wasn't until the 16th of May that the flurry of activities surrounding the hiring of Billy Gillispie to the head coaching position and the bulk of his recruiting for the year of 2007, for all intents and purposes, come to a close.

As in any KHSAA Sweet Sixteen, there are always interesting sidebars that accompany the tournament. We engaged a tournament evaluator of referees, Bobby McGrath, for input on the assigning of officials for future games in the tournament. He was one of four evaluators strategically placed throughout the arena.

McGrath previously worked four KHSAA state tournaments but also being a high school football referee, by the age of thirty-two had made his way to the SEC where he refereed for 12 years. Tubby Smith was at the tournament during the opening session on Wednesday appearing to be in an unusually good mood and making his rounds in the hospitality room. McGrath asked me the obvious question, "who is Tubby looking at?" Since Scott County's Bud Mackey was committed to Indiana University, the only possibility was Scott Counties Matt Walls as a possible walk-on.

Unknown to everyone, however, Smith was making his farewell rounds.

McGrath went into the NFL a few years ago but the entry was grueling. He said an FBI agent practically lived with him for three days in his hometown of Louisville. "He came out of New York," McGrath explained. "He did background checks on possible gambling habits, past drug use, and bank accounts - he checked everything. I called him a shrink (psychiatrist).

"My immediate boss is Jim Diapolous." Diapolous is from Lexington, Kentucky. Ironically, I first had contact with Diapolous years ago, playing flag-football in an IBM league in Lexington, where Diapolous' refereeing days were in its infancy and often officiated. He is now a supervisor of NFL referees and makes his home in New York.

Diapolous often talks of how tough that league was. The league was subsequently disbanded by the company because of too many injuries.

McGrath discussed the supervisors. "They make us work. They send us a DVD on our game and we have to evaluate two more games and ourselves. Then he (Diapolous) evaluates us."

What was one of the most unusual situations Diapolous has been involved in since being in the NFL? "I was involved in the game that caused the NFL to adopt instant replay. Vinnie Testaverde crawled into the end zone from the four yard-line. There was a bad snap and he went down to get it and crawled over, through and around people to get in the end zone and nobody saw it. It was one of those years when a lot of strange things happened."

MaGrath is involved in the Louisville high school system and is assigned as a tournament evaluator by Larry Boucher, a KHSAA member in charge of the basketball officials.


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