Excel Sports Officiating Delivers Innovative Education, Training, Career Resources to Officials, Athletic and Officiating Organizations

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“The University of Sports Officiating” fills a long-standing void in professional and amateur sports by providing a comprehensive national education system for officials.

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Every eminently successful group of professionals has been able to unite and create a clear path to success for those with talent and ambition. We owe it to the officials of all sports, and the sports themselves, to take this giant stride forward.

The top sports officiating leaders in America have joined together to launch Excel Sports Officiating (ESO) and http://www.eofficials.com, the first organization in the history of sports to streamline the training and ongoing education of all officials – from novice to seasoned professional – in every sport and on a national level.

“This is a tremendously ambitious project, but its time has come,” said Henry O. Nichols, Ph.D., NCAA coordinator of men’s basketball officials and former professor of education at Villanova University. “Every eminently successful group of professionals has been able to unite and create a clear path to success for those with talent and ambition. We owe it to the officials of all sports, and the sports themselves, to take this giant stride forward.”

Added Steve Rippley, retired Major League Baseball (MLB) umpire and crew chief: “The fact that ESO was started by officials is pivotal. I look at ESO and I see not only leaders, but the top educators from across the spectrum of sports. We’ve never had this kind of an opportunity to pool our talents and resources for the benefit of less experienced officials. The common denominator here is excellence in officiating, and it is snowballing.”

In less than a year, the organization raised more than $1 million in start-up capital, by far the most money ever dedicated to national officiating training in such a short time frame. ESO has also entered exclusive and unprecedented agreements with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), thus attaining the distinction of being affiliated with every high school and college in the United States.

CEO Ralph Nelson, former MLB vice president of umpiring, said: “We have made phenomenal progress, which I attribute to the demand. Everywhere we have taken our concepts we have met with enthusiastic approval. Officiating leaders, administrators and officials in general know that they need innovative educational programs. ESO provides them with access to an unprecedented collection of tools and resources to enhance officiating careers. For athletic organizations we offer a versatile online certification program based on the testing model we developed for the NCAA. We will also make available other resources designed to improve officiating consistency and to alleviate the administrative burden on associations by providing systematic grading, tracking and recording of their officials’ progress.”

ESO’s education programs are tailored to the objectives of each respective organization and will include single-day clinics, off-season camps and comprehensive officiating schools. ESO programs are created by Education Panel members, officiating “greats” such as Red Cashion, retired NFL referee; Jim Evans, former MLB crew chief and operator of the Jim Evans Academy of Professional Umpiring; Ed Hightower, 10-time NCAA Final Four basketball official; and Melissa Barlow, seven-time NCAA Final Four basketball official.

Eofficials.com, ESO’s extensive and versatile online presence, provides affordable access to top quality educational and training aids such as:

  •     ESO Rules Excel™, the world’s most comprehensive rules database, which currently includes basketball, baseball and football rulebooks and will eventually include all sports; high school, collegiate and professional rules; search features for rulebooks and casebooks; instant electronic access to specific rules; video play examples; links from individual rules to a spectrum of supplemental materials; and one-touch links to related rulebook passages.
  •     The ESO Officiating Library, including advice on techniques, video presentations, documents and publications.
  •     NCAA intellectual property, including major rule changes, bulletins, interpretations, instructional videos, camps and clinics, and certification exam information.
  •     The ESO Officiating Fitness and Nutrition Program, created exclusively for ESO by world renowned fitness authority Mackie Shilstone, director of the Center for Performance Enhancement at the Ochsner Clinic and MLB umpire fitness consultant, which allows members to create personalized, sport-specific preseason conditioning programs; in-season maintenance programs; nutrition programs; and pre-game stretching routines
  •     Online training and continuing education programs that are consistent with national governing body policies and feature video examples, articles from the eofficials.com Officiating Library, animations, PowerPoint and Flash presentations and interactive training exercises
  •     Corporate discounts with major organizations including rental car companies, hotel properties, airlines, fitness centers and other services

ESO is comprised of many of the profession’s most renowned educators and accomplished officials. “Each member of the ESO ‘crew’ shares a commitment to professionalism, high ethical standards, and the advancement of sports officiating in general,” said Violet Palmer, NBA referee and ESO Board of Governors member. “These people have succeeded and want to pass that success on to others.”

Adds fellow Board of Governors member Bill Carollo, NFL referee and executive director of the National Football League Referees Association (NFLRA): “That crew is what truly sets ESO apart. From the management team to the sport-specific education panels, the officiating profession’s top talent is deeply involved in every facet of ESO, ensuring that diverse views are represented and that our mix of educational programs and online services provides opportunities for officials to succeed regardless personal relationships, economic or ethnic background or geographic location.”


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Elizabeth Roop
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