PHOENIX — After he played point guard for Don Haskins’ powerful UTEP teams in the 1960s, Bobby Dibler rose from an entry level sales rep at Proctor & Gamble to a high-level operations manager in El Paso.
He retired 14 years ago, but all those interpersonal skills he used in business are still necessary today.
Maybe more than ever.
Dibler has not only taken over as Pac-12 basketball officials coordinator but also is continuing to oversee the Mountain West Conference and Western Athletic Conferences. In addition, he has spearheaded a coalition with three other Western conferences that resulted in a three-day training clinic that concludes today for about 150 officials.
Oh, and he also gets to clean up any smoke still remaining from that firestorm involving Arizona Wildcats coach Sean Miller and now-departed Pac-12 officials coordinator Ed Rush.
Rush resigned after allegations surfaced last spring that he improperly motivated officials into more closely watching Miller and other Pac-12 coaches at the league’s tournament in Las Vegas.
It’s a subject Dibler has revisited with Miller, though Dibler shared little detail about how he did so.
“I’ve talked to Sean; we’ve visited and had discussions,” Dibler said Thursday, during a break in the officials’ training clinic. “And yet let me tell you how I live my life. Anytime something negative happens that it affects our game, particularly from officiating standpoint, I feel for the people involved in it. I’m the kind of person who reaches out to them because it’s happened to me. Oftentimes that support isn’t there.
“Clearly when the (Rush) situation occurred, yeah, that bothered me. I was very sensitive to it but at the same time it wasn’t one of my conference schools so I just kind of got through the process of understanding what took place because I wasn’t involved in it.”
Now he is involved in it. Even though Rush is gone, any technical foul (or lack thereof) to Miller could become scrutinized. Are Pac-12 officials harder on him? Easier? Or is he treated just like anyone else?
When asked about that possibility, Dibler responded by saying he told his entire group of about 150 officials that there are two guidebooks officials use and that’s all that matters, that if they are followed correctly they’re doing the right job.
So, in other words, the intent is to handle Miller by the book. And everyone else.
“I told (Miller) everything that I can help him but I haven’t told Sean anything I haven’t told other coaches,” Dibler said. “I can’t tell you my discussions with him stand out as being different than any of the others.”
Consistency is Dibler’s aim during the clinic this week, with officials attending 12 different breakout sessions on topics such as calling screens, game management, video review, positioning and even how to electronically submit game clips to be studied.
Another overriding theme: The NCAA is aiming to increase scoring, in part by calling more fouls on defenses. That includes tilting the block-versus-charge equation further toward the offense by making defenders get in position before an offensive player begins an upward motion (previously defenders could set up until an opponent fully left the floor).
Additionally, Dibler is aiming to find consistency and improvement via scheduling. Instead of having a top official take a Big Ten or Big 12 game, then fly back to work a Pac-12 game the next day, Dibler said he’s trying to convince them instead to work a Pac-12 game and a game from another Western conference in the same area.
David Hall, a Colorado-based veteran official of the Pac-12 and several other leagues, said having Dibler schedule multiple Western leagues avoids conflicts that can sometimes force an official to move around.
The result could be travel time and money saved, and maybe some better work as a result of the extra rest.
“If I can send an official to the Bay area, they can work Cal, Stanford, San Jose State and Fresno State,” Dibler said. “Then they’re not getting on an airplane, they’re getting more rest, they don’t have to get up until 8:30 or nine to have breakfast instead of getting up at 4 and trying to catch that 5 o’clock flight to the next site.
“I can use that as a recruiting tool.”