NEW YORK (AP) Dennis DeMayo has had the best view of some of women’s college basketball’s greatest games over the past 30 years.
The 63-year-old estimates he’s officiated over 2,000 games, and he will call his final one Wednesday night when No. 23 Temple visits top-ranked UConn.
”I know it’s time,” DeMayo said in an interview with The Associated Press. ”One of those kids may never put another uniform on, and I’d hate myself if I got myself in position where I couldn’t see a play because I’m a little bit older and couldn’t get there.”
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DeMayo, who also officiated in the WNBA for a few years when that league was just getting started, is still one of the top referees in the game. His call accuracy rate is among the best in the country.
”I think it’s a young man’s or lady’s game now,” DeMayo said. ”A playoff game might help their resume to get an NCAA Tournament game. I’d love to see a young kid get an opportunity by me pulling myself out and letting them get a chance. So the time was right for me to step aside.”
He’s worked with hundreds of officials over the years and always preached to the younger ones the three ”C’s” – communication, concentration and consistency.
”Dennis has been a longtime mentor and friend to me in officiating for the last 15 years,” official Joe Vaszily said. ”I looked up to him as a younger official who consistently got plays right at a very high level every night. He was hard on me and helped me to grow in my officiating ability.”
DeMayo has done his share of big games over the years. He’s officiated in six Final Fours, including the championship game in 2000 between UConn and Tennessee that was in his hometown of Philadelphia.
”That was definitely the biggest thrill,” he said. ”A Philly guy, with so many Philly ties in the game. A lot of my friends got tickets to the game.”
A lot of his friends were also watching at the local bar/restaurant he was a partner in. DeMayo laughed in recalling a story how that night, drinks were offered up every time he blew his whistle.
Before officiating, DeMayo spent time as a coach, and he attributes his understanding of the game to that.
”I always felt that we were going to get a good game whenever he was on a game,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. ”I always felt like he was a knowledgeable basketball guy and he was going to be fair and he was going to let you know when he thought you were wrong. And you could talk to him when you thought he was wrong, and that’s basically all you want in an official.”
DeMayo and Auriemma have a long history back to their days growing up in Philadelphia. The two played against each other in high school in the Philadelphia Catholic League.
”We definitely had battles on the court, as you’d expect from two Philadelphia schools,” DeMayo recalled with a laugh.
DeMayo doesn’t know what his future holds, except he plans to be back home in Wildwood, New Jersey on Thursday relaxing.
AP Sports Writer Pat Eaton-Robb in Storrs, Connecticut contributed to this story.