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Monday, March 27, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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UW Men's Basketball

UW Men's Basketball: Turner writes letter to NCAA

Seattle Times staff reporter

If the Huskies get to the Sweet 16 again, Washington athletic director Todd Turner doesn't want its players, coaches and fans feeling the game was tainted by officiating.

So as the Huskies flew home Saturday from Washington, D.C., after a 98-92 defeat in overtime to UConn that featured its share of controversial calls, Turner wrote a letter to NCAA officials.

Turner said he didn't protest the NCAA men's basketball tournament game.

"There's nothing you can do about it once the game ends," he said. "That's not my point."

Instead, he said the purpose was "to try to encourage them to consider things a little differently in the future in how we assign the officials."

Officials are awarded spots in the NCAA tournament after being ranked among the best in the country by evaluators.

They are then assigned games, though they can't officiate contests involving teams from conferences in which they worked during the season. Two of the officials in the UConn game, for instance, have worked primarily in the Big Ten and the Missouri Valley conferences in recent years.

"The most important thing is that we have our absolute best guys on the floor when the time comes and based upon that particular game," Turner said. "I didn't think we had the best crew on the floor."

The Washington AD said he received a response from Greg Shaheen, the vice president of NCAA Division I men's basketball, explaining the officials who worked the game had been selected through the evaluation process.

"Maybe that crew rated as a top crew," Turner said. "But they were not known to be a top crew, and I've been doing this for a long time. Maybe we need to evaluate the evaluators."

Turner also expressed concern over the game's late start time in his letter.

The game was officially scheduled to begin at 9:57 p.m. EST, but when the George Mason-Wichita State game ran a little long, Washington and UConn didn't tip off until about 10:10 p.m. and the game didn't end until about 12:50 a.m.

Turner said he was told the start time was pushed back a bit for television purposes, specifically for West Coast stations.

But Turner said the tip time "was ridiculous and not fair to the players, nor fair to the fans who paid money for those tickets. We were sitting in that gym at 12:45 a.m. and still playing."

Turner said the late tip was a bigger disadvantage for UConn.

"For us, that was like 9:45 p.m.," he said. "It's worse on Connecticut. It makes no sense. It's not being a good steward of the game."

Turner said he mostly hoped his letter, which he sent via e-mail to numerous NCAA officials and members of the NCAA tournament committee, will "at least raise the issues."

Washington coach Lorenzo Romar has not critiqued the officiating.

"We had our chances," he said Saturday.

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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