Stagnant pay keeping some RMAC VB officials away

Monday afternoon, Dave Fleming hadn’t really concerned himself with a scouting report for the Colorado Mesa University volleyball team’s first opponent of the season.

“We haven’t looked at St. Joseph’s (Ind.),” Fleming said. “I’m too worried about having officials.”

A vast number of officials who work RMAC volleyball matches are boycotting the conference, RMAC Commissioner J.R. Smith said this week.

“They’re all on independent contract status,” Smith said. “Every year we sent out requests for assignments. They can take them, take them and turn them back or don’t take them. We had a whole bunch take them and turn them back on us.”

Smith said between 50 and 55 officials work RMAC matches, but several turned back matches and refuse to work with the conference until they get a pay raise.

RMAC volleyball officials make $90 each match, Smith said. Fleming said the officials haven’t gotten a pay bump for several years. Smith said the RMAC has frozen all officials’ pay rates the past three years.

“They wanted some more money,” Smith said. “We’re in the process of trying to do something to enhance compensation for all officials, but we can’t do anything until October’s meeting. We aren’t able to do anything for fall sports, and that wasn’t good enough for them.”

Conference athletic directors and presidents are scheduled to meet in October and vote on whether to increase officials’ compensation over the next three years to get the RMAC into the median range of NCAA Division II in every sport.

If approved, volleyball salaries would jump to $130 per match.

Fleming said some Western Slope officials are taking RMAC assignments.

Smith said the first two weekends were a challenge to fill because of the number of tournaments, including the Colorado Mines Oredigger Classic this week, where the Mavericks are playing, and CMU’s Holiday Inn Crossroads Classic from Sept. 6–8 at Brownson Arena.

The Mines tournament is set with officials, but as of Tuesday, only three officials were confirmed for Mesa’s tournament.

Fleming said several area officials who work high school matches are available and might be used as down officials, with the veteran college officials in the lead position on the ladder.

More subs: Astute fans will notice a change this season in college volleyball.

The NCAA increased the number of substitutes from 12 to 15 per set. The increase will allow for more defensive specialists or serving specialists to play in critical situations.

“I’m not a huge fan of it as a volleyball old-timer,” Fleming said. “You like those kids who can play all six rotations, but it’s really going to force coaches into specializing front row, back row.”

The fifth-game approach will be interesting, he said.

“You could have a side-out middle and a point-scoring middle,” Fleming said. “When we’re serving, we could have our best blocking middle, and when we’re siding out we could have our best hitting middle. You could see that flip-flop almost every point.”


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This is a tough one for me to understand.  You see, I am a NCAA soccer official who works RMAC matches, and I have even worked a match in the NCAA DII playoffs.  As an assistant referee [AR} for a RMAC game (the guy who runs the lines) I make $90 a match.  If I were in the center, I would make $130 a match.  To do this each season, I have to pass a physical fitness exam and work three matches just to pay my referee dues.  I also have to pay an assessment fee, as I get assessed every season. I’ll say that again - I have to pay a fee to get assessed.  Further, to become a college referee, I had to purchase 8 shirts— 4 different colors in short sleeve and long sleeve.  I also had to purchase four pair of socks to match these shirts.

When I referee as the center referee, I run between 6-7 miles in a match. If I am an AR, I sprint depending on what the players do.  I sprint when they do-no excuses.  In late August/early September, if its 95 degrees outside, it is 105 degrees or more on a turf field.  If it is late October/early November, the game might be played in freezing rain.  If it’s 40 degrees outside, that is a good thing.

I know that at a minimum, I will be working a game that is 90 minutes long (two 45 minute halves)—120 minutes if it goes to overtime (two 10 minute overtime periods, unless a goal is scored) If it does go full overtime, I make $45 an hour as an AR—pretty darn good. $65 an hour if I am the center—but I just ran 7 miles!  If a volley game goes 3 hours, that is $30 an hour—-still good pay.  We all have to pay referee dues, we all have uniforms to buy, and we all have travel expenses. 

I don’t know any volleyball officials, and I certainly do not mean any disrespect, but how does a volley ball referee who stands still in an air-conditioned or heated environment expect to be paid the same as a soccer referee?  While the amount of time might be similar, the physical fitness requirements and extreme weather conditions are not even close.  All officials are expected to know the rules and make perfect calls, so there is no comparison here. Again, no disrespect intended.  I love the game of soccer, and I love officiating soccer.  I don’t do it for the money.  (don’t tell the RMAC that)

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