The Maryland Terrapins’ women’s lacrosse team won the national championship Memorial Day weekend, beating Northwestern University 13-11. The victory clinched the Terps’ record 10th title and broke the Wildcats’ five-year run as champions.
Now, I can’t say I’m a big fan of women’s lacrosse. But I am a proud Maryland alum, and I’ll always pull for the sports teams.
So I was surprised when I read earlier this week that Northwestern had sent a “letter of inquiry” to the NCAA alleging official shenanigans (literally) aided Maryland’s victory. Northwestern claims that a veteran referee, Pat Dillon, talked with the championship game officiating crew prior to the final. The problem, according to NU, is that Dillon’s longtime partner, Sandy Worth, is Maryland’s head athletic trainer.
According to the NCAA, Dillon mentioned her Maryland connections on a disclosure form, which means she cannot work any Terps games.
But Dillon, a Hall of Fame referee, was part of the crew that officiated Northwestern’s victory in the semifinals, an assignment NU had unsuccessfully asked the NCAA to remove her from.
My first reaction was two words: Sore. Losers. But then I imagined the shoe on the other paw, so to speak: if Dillion was in a relationship with someone connected to the Northwestern team, I imagine Maryland’s athletic department would be just as upset.
While I doubt a Hall of Fame referee would try to unduly influence her colleagues moments before the biggest game of the year, as NU alleges, it seems the general point about conflict of interest merits further investigation.
I guess that’s a question that will have to be addressed for next season – when the Terps will be defending their championship.