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UCLA-Oregon basketball postponed after COVID-19 sidelines referee crew

UCLA coach Mick Cronin adjusts his mask on the sideline.
UCLA coach Mick Cronin adjusts his mask on the sideline during the first half against San Diego on Dec. 9 at Pauley Pavilion.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

The Pac-12 Conference has taken its inability to call games to a new level.

The officials scheduled to work UCLA’s basketball game against No. 25 Oregon on Wednesday afternoon at Matthew Knight Arena were barred from doing their jobs after one tested positive for COVID-19 and two others were ruled out through contact tracing, Ducks coach Dana Altman told reporters in Eugene. As a result, the game was called off.

The crew of Kevin Brill, Eric Curry and Randy McCall had worked Oregon State’s game against Portland on Tuesday in Corvallis, Altman said, making the officials close contacts for each other after one positive test.

A Pac-12 spokesman said the noon scheduled starting time, location of the game, travel and COVID-19 testing hindered the conference’s ability to have alternate officials available. Standby officials will be available at all conference games starting Dec. 31.

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While there is no formal reimbursement policy for game postponement, UCLA can make a request to the Pac-12’s athletics directors council to recoup its travel expenses.

“Our guys are devastated,” Bruins coach Mick Cronin said in a statement in which he also expressed concern for the health of the officiating crew. “This was going to be a great basketball game on a national stage. Our players were ready to move past a tough ending against Ohio State last Saturday.”

Instead, they were headed back to Los Angeles to start a short Christmas break before resuming practice on Sunday. The Bruins’ next scheduled game is against Utah on Dec. 31 at Pauley Pavilion.

UCLA guard Chris Smith has seen a drop-off in performance so far this season. Coach Mick Cronin says he has to find ways to get Smith more involved on offense.

UCLA said in a statement that the Pac-12 would work with the Bruins (5-2 overall, 1-0 Pac-12) and Ducks (6-1, 1-0) to try and find a mutually agreeable date to reschedule the game. The teams’ other meeting this season is scheduled for Jan. 28 at Pauley Pavilion.

One possible makeup date would be Wednesday March 3, because each team has only one game scheduled that week, against its traditional rival on March 6.

This was the third disruption of the season for UCLA, which has had a game against Long Beach State postponed twice because of repeated COVID-19 issues involving the Beach.

Pac-12 officiating has long been a focal point of fan angst, mostly because of missed calls and botched replays. Not being able to call a game was something new.

“Unfortunate for our young men who traveled to Eugene & were ready to play,” UCLA athletic director Martin Jarmond tweeted. “We look forward to working with the Pac-12 conference on addressing this situation.”


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