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Pac-12 athletic directors endorse changes to replay following USC-Washington State controversy

Pac-12 athletic directors endorse changes to replay following USC-Washington State controversy
USC quarterback JT Daniels was at the center of play that led the Pac-12 to change its policy on instant replay. A roughing the passer penalty called after Daniels was drilled by a tackler was reversed by a Pac-12 executive who overruled officials. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Responding to criticism over a non-call during a USC game last month, the athletic directors from Pac-12 Conference schools have endorsed a set of changes to the instant replay process for football games.

The reforms focus on a “third party” who overruled officials as they deliberated a potential targeting penalty when the Trojans played Washington State on Sept. 21.

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“It is clear that a mistake was made and that action needed to be taken,” Commissioner Larry Scott said Wednesday, adding: “We are determined to learn from this episode and strengthen our officiating processes as well.”

In the third quarter of the game in question, Washington State linebacker Logan Tago drove his helmet into JT Daniels after the USC quarterback had taken a knee. The play drew a flag for roughing the passer and was immediately reviewed for targeting.

According to a document obtained by Yahoo Sports, replay officials at the Pac-12’s command center in San Francisco concluded there was targeting but were overridden by the “third party,” who was subsequently identified as Woodie Dixon, the conference’s general counsel and vice president of business affairs.

A subsequent internal review conceded to errors but called Dixon’s interference “an isolated incident.”

On Wednesday, the athletic directors declared that the command center supervisor will now have final decision-making authority and that no administrators will play a role in deliberations.

The conference vowed to develop a comprehensive manual governing all aspects of instant replay and announced that disciplinary measures had been imposed on “certain Pac-12 personnel.”

No details were provided on who was punished or how.

“The safety of our student-athletes has been and will always be a priority with the Pac-12 Conference,” the athletic directors said in a joint statement. “Moving forward, we have confidence in the integrity of our process and the personnel charged with monitoring the process.”

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