Refereeing at an NCAA basketball game is a mixture of joy and uncertainty for many referees. Most NCAA referees do not officiate games full time, so refereeing gives them a taste of being able to do what they love. On the other hand, serving as a referee during a game also can cause an official to sacrifice time from home and sometimes to pay for some of his own expenses. Because referees work on a per-game basis, work is not guaranteed.
Nature of Employment
The amount of money an NCAA referee earns for officiating at basketball games largely depends on the nature of his employment. Some referees -- such as those who work in larger conferences such as the Big East, Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten and others -- receive significant paychecks. The frequency of paychecks for these referees is much less consistent.
Big Conference Referees
The NCAA basketball season is approximately five months long. During the course of these five months, referees might officiate more than 50 games. Some officiate as many as 100 games per season. In-demand referees can earn as much as $2,000 for each game. In addition to the pay he receives, an official in a large conference also receives paid airfare and paid expenses.
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Small Conference Referees
Most referees do not make a living being a full-time official. Part-time officials work in smaller conferences throughout the country. An official in a small conference can make as much as $50,000 in a season, but he must work between 40-60 games to earn that much. Because referees are only paid for the games they work, a referee who is unable to officiate because of an extended sickness or significant injury could see a significant decrease in his earning potential.
NCAA Tournament Referees
Referees seek to make it to the postseason just as teams do. Any referee chosen to officiate in the NCAA tournament earns $1,000 per game in the first three rounds. Referees earn $1,400 for officiating in the regional finals, and $2,000 for officiating in any of the Final Four games.