Bobby Gaston retires

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Bobby Gaston, whose tenure in the Southeastern Conference as a football official and coordinator has spanned 50 years, has announced his retirement as the league's coordinator of football officials.

Gaston has served as the SEC Coordinator of Football Officials since 1988. During the last several years, Gaston played a key role in the development of instant replay for SEC football games. Also during his tenure as coordinator, he instituted various training programs, official's clinics and pioneered the use of video training tapes sent out each week during the season.

"Bobby has served this league with distinction for 50 years, "said SEC Commissioner Mike Slive. "On the field, he was one of the best officials we have had and as a coordinator, he has set in place a program that allows our officials to be the best in the country."

Prior to his appointment as the league's coordinator, Gaston worked on the field for 25 years in the SEC, and was ranked the top head linesman in the league for 16 of those seasons. From 1957-81, he worked as a head linesman for 18 bowl games and numerous all-star games. Following his on-field retirement, he became an SEC Observer until his appointment to coordinator.

"Bobby's stamp on college football, not only in the SEC, but around the nation will be felt for many years to come," added Slive. "His love for this conference, the game of football and for the student-athletes who play it, is far-reaching. We expect that Bobby will continue to be active in officiating and college football, putting to good use his half-century of experience."

Gaston has also played a key role in developing on-field policies and rules in college football such as sportsmanship, illegal contact, intentional grounding and substitution rules. He also led the drive for the referee to announce penalty information in the stadium during the game.

"It has been an exciting and rewarding experience to be a part of the Southeastern Conference for 50 years in all three officiating roles – on-the-field, observer and coordinator," said Gaston. "We have been able to develop an officiating program in the SEC that has been the leader in college football. This would not have been possible, if it had not been for the commitment from the SEC and the skills, work ethic and character the game officials that we have had in the league since 1988."

In 1995, the National Football Foundation honored Gaston with its Official's Award. He has also served as president of the Georgia Football Officials Association and the SEC Officials Association as well as the Collegiate Commissioners Association National Coordinators.

Gaston will be inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame on May 20 in Macon for his many contributions in the sport of football.

Gaston lettered in football and basketball at Georgia Tech from 1944 to his graduation in 1948 and played in the 1944 Sugar Bowl. He was a Lt. junior grade in the U.S. Navy during World War II and served in the Pacific as a Boat Group Commander.

Gaston, an avid golfer, and his wife, Gail, have been married for 32 years and live in Atlanta. They have five children: Bobby, Jr., Wesley, Randy, Audra Lantrip and Melanie.

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