Tom O'Neill Named 2012 Naismith Men's College Basketball Official of the Year

Aug. 22, 2012

ATLANTA - Veteran Mountain West men's basketball official Tom O'Neill has been named the 2012 Naismith Men's College Official of the Year, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced today. O'Neill was joined by fellow honoree Doug Cloud, who was chosen as the 2012 Naismith Women's College Official of the Year.

First awarded in 1988, the award recognizes individuals who display character, integrity and dignity and have contributed mightily to the growth, success and viability of college basketball. O'Neill is the third Mountain West official to receive the award, following Scott Thornley (2008) and Steve Welmer (2006). Ed Hightower, who currently officiates in the Mountain West, also won the award in 1992.

Since 1977, O'Neill has been associated with basketball officiating. A 30-year veteran in the Division I men's basketball officiating ranks, O'Neill has served as a Mountain West official since the league's inception in 1999. He began his career in the Missouri Valley Conference and has since worked in most conferences across the country, including the Atlantic 10, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Conference USA, Horizon, Mid-American, Pac-12, Southeastern, Sun Belt and Western Athletic conferences.

O'Neill has worked 100 games in each of the last seven years, totaling over 2,600 Division I games.

His NCAA tournament portfolio is highlighted by four Final Fours, having worked the 1991 and 2007 national semifinal games, and the 1997 and 2009 championships. He has officiated in the NCAA tournament 26 times (76 games), a mark reached by only a handful of officials. In addition, he worked the first College Basketball Invitational championship game in 2008 between Tulsa and Bradley.

Along the way, he has officiated a number of coaches' milestone victory games, including Homer Drew (700th), Denny Crum (600th), Jim Boeheim (500th) and Bob Knight (500th).

Refereeing basketball games runs in the O'Neill family as his three sons, Rick (also a MW official), Michael and Tom Jr., have followed in their father's footsteps and are officiating at the Division I level. On November 30, 2001, three of the O'Neills became the first family trio to officiate an NCAA basketball game as Tom, Tom Jr. and Rick all worked the contest in Milwaukee, Wis., between host Marquette and Houston Baptist. Last year, all three made Division I history officiating together at Eastern Illinois. Tom O'Neill, who lives in Tinley Park, Ill., has been married to his wife, Vicki, for 43 years.

Throughout his career, O'Neill has also been heavily involved with high school basketball in Illinois. In 2002, he was inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. He is also a member of the Northern Illinois Hall of Fame.

O'Neill has been the supervisor of officials for the south-suburban Chicago area's South Inter-Athletic Association Conference for 25 years. Additionally, O'Neill has the longest running basketball officiating camp, "The Tom O'Neill Officiating Camp," now at 30 years.

"I am both honored and humbled by this award," said O'Neill. "Looking at the list of previous winners, I realize how lucky I am to be mentioned in their company. It is truly a list of the greatest college referees that ever worked a game."

The Naismith Award for Men's and Women's College Officials of the Year has been presented since 1988. To be eligible, an individual must have been involved with the sport as a game official for at least 20 years, and worked at least one Final Four and conference tournament as a game official.

The Atlanta Tipoff Club, an Atlanta Sports Council property, is committed to promoting the game of basketball and recognizing the outstanding accomplishments of those who make the game so exciting. The Atlanta Tipoff Club, founded during the 1956-57 season, has presented the Naismith Trophy every year since UCLA's Lew Alcindor first won the award in 1969. The Naismith Award has become the most prestigious award in all of college basketball, recognizing the Men's and Women's College Basketball Player of the Year, Men's and Women's College Basketball Coach of the Year, as well as awards for outstanding achievement in high school basketball, officiating, and contribution to the game.

Naismith Men's College Basketball
Officials of the Year
Year Name
2011 Ed Corbett
2010 Tony Greene
2009 Mike Kitts
2007 John Cahill
2005 Ted Valentine
2004 Bob Donato
2003 Mike Wood
2002 Larry Rose
2001 Ted Hillary
2000 Gerald Boudreaux
1999 Andre Pattillo
1998 Frank Scagliotta
1997 Tommy Lopes
1996 Dick Paparo
1995 Leonard Wirtz
1994 Tim Higgins
1993 James Burr
1992 Ed Hightower
1991 Don Rutledge
1990 Mickey Crowley
1989 John Clougherty
1988 Joe Forte