Dan Scavone had planned to stop refereeing boys basketball games by age 60.
The best laid plans do sometimes go awry – but this time, in a good way. Scavone, 56, stopped in the off-season after 31 years., But he is still involved in the process: Scavone will now be assigning the referees for the CIAC state tournament games for both boys and girls.
“Physically, I’m not 150 pounds. My size, to do two or three games in a row, it now takes two hours to walk normally the next morning,” Scavone said. “I hustle and run as hard as I can, but my body entering my late 50s is much different than 10-20 years ago. It has started to take a physical toll. I never wanted to be one of those guys to hang on and officiate in pain.”
Scavone, a Hamden resident, replaces Tom Murray, a Branford resident, who did it the past 28 seasons. The two men have chatted several times already.
“He will be better than me,” Murray said about Scavone. “He has more energy and he has more contacts. When I started. I started from scratch. … Dan has a good sense of what is going on. He is a pretty smart guy.”
Scavone has been an athletic director at four schools, including Danbury and Berlin. In addition, he is currently on the CIAC boys basketball tournament committee and on the CIAC officials advisory committee, as well as the commissioner of the Central Connecticut Conference.
So when Murray decided to retire in the spring, Scavone went for the job. Now, he tries to get to as many games as he can to evaluate officials on different International Association of Approved Basketball Officials of which there are six across the state.
“The way I feel about my decision is no different than six months ago,” Scavone said. “You don’t do something 31 years without enjoying it thoroughly. You don’t step away and not miss it, certain aspects of being on the court.”
The process of getting to the tournament assigning starts with the league commissioners putting together their varsity eligible lists. Once those are submitted, both coaches and athletic directors can vote on which officials they prefer doing the tournament games.
Scavone has “sole discretion” on who works what games. But the largest boards by numbers work the most tournament games, and so on down the line. And in all cases, games use a neutral board, unless two teams from the same area are competing against one another.
“Because of the parameters already in place, there is little opportunity to be biased,” Scavone said.
Said Murray: “It’s an open, collaborative process. I would talk to thee commissioners regularly during the tournament, more towards the end, picking their brain on the current status of officials. Everybody wants the same thing: good officiating on the game. As long as you have that, it will work out.”