Being one of four people to hold this position, Hildebrand oversees the officials in the south region and sees upwards to 75 games live from six to seven conferences.
“Each basketball conference has a coordinator of officials,” Hildebrand said. “We work directly with those officials. By the end of October, I have a list of games and the officials who will do those games.”
Hildebrand began monitoring officials in 1997, after former official Dale Kelley brought him into the business. Hildebrand also attributes his previous work as Northwestern State University’s athletic director in helping him prepare as a monitor.
“Being an director of athletics was number one in helping me prepare for this, “ Hildebrand said. “It helps you understand the business and officials.”
There is a detailed process to each live game the advisors go to. Since they are not able to go to every game, they take full advantage at scouting the working officials thoroughly without having any contact with them whatsoever.
“We look at 75-100 different things before each game, such as each individual official’s fitness, appearance and mobility on the floor,” Hildebrand said. “We also look at the arena, how do the officials communicate with others, including the table crew, consistency from start to finish. But once the game begins, the main thing I look for is playcalling and how they call fouls. If you can call the fouls, you’ll be a good official.”
Those reports go a long way into determining who goes on to do NCAA tournament games. Only 98 officials are bestowed that honor, and because men’s basketball at the collegiate level is one of the more lucrative sports that the NCAA has to offer, the advising committee makes sure the best officials are in place to ensure fairness and then those officials are also evaluated.
“We grade based on DVDs of all the NCAA Tournament officials, and then we submit an online report to the NCAA,” Hildebrand said. “There are 27 reports with 25000 things that are checked upon. A good percentage goes a long way to determining if you stay around an extra year or not.”
The road is also a tough one to become an official. A lot of training is required before one is even able to work in the collegiate level.
“It is a long, long haul to get to be an NCAA official,” Hildebrand said. “Our officials start in junior high and it might be three years until he gets a break.”
Also required for officials are training camps where each regional coordinator also shows up to administer the process and develop the officials.
With especially an ever-changing game, it is very important.
“Officiating is getting better, but it could plateau too,” Hildebrand said. “The game is different now, so officiating is getting different too.”