NFL hires first full-time female official

The NFL announced the hiring of Sarah Thomas to its roster of officials, making her the first full-time female official in the league.

The NFL added nine new officials on Wednesday, including the first full-time female official in the league.

Sarah Thomas was hired as a line judge after officiating in Conference USA since 2007. In 2012, Shannon Eastin served as a line judge for the first three games of the NFL season, but Thomas will be the first full-time female official in the NFL.

All nine officials added to the roster are graduates of the NFL Officiating Development program. They will be on the practice fields across the NFL during organized team activities in May.

In addition to the news of Thomas joining the full-time officiating ranks, the roster of new officials also includes another member whose father is an NFL official. Walt Coleman IV, the son of dean of NFL officials, referee Walt Coleman, was hired as a side judge. His father will be entering his 27th season in 2015, and the hiring of Coleman IV makes it the third active father-son officiating duo in the NFL, joining Ed and Shawn Hochuli and Steve and Brad Freeman.

The other first-time NFL officials added to the roster: Kevin Codey, line judge, previously of the ACC; Hugo Cruz, head linesman, Big 12; Bart Longson, head linesman, Pac-12; Clay Martin, umpire, Conference USA; Aaron Santi, side judge, Pac-12; Shawn Smith, field judge, Big 10; and Jabir Walker, side judge, SEC.

“Our incoming officials have all demonstrated that they are among the best in college football,” said NFL Vice President of Officiating Dena Blandino. “We are excited about having them join us.”

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