Sports Biz with Darren Rovell

NBA Refs: Pay Raise Might Help Integrity of Game


It’s time to give NBA referees a raise. Friday’s news that an NBA referee, reportedly Tim Donaghy, might have used his power to influence games and bet on them is the big reason. When we’ve talk about who could fix games, we always talked about college athletes. They’ve done it because they don’t make any money and therefore are tempted by gamblers who don’t mind corrupting the game.

The bottom line is referees don’t make enough money either. NBA refs roughly earn between $100,000 and $300,000 a year. Take a look at how their salary has increased over the years.

In 1983, NBA refs made between $18,146 and $78,259. Factoring in inflation, that’s $37,959 to $163,709. That’s an average increase of 136 percent over the past 25 years. Now let’s look at how players salaries increased. In 1983, the average NBA player salary was about $275,000. This past season, the average salary was $5.2 million. Factoring in inflation, NBA players salaries have increased 806 percent over the same time period.

I’m not saying that you have to increase the percentage of pay to the referees to make it commensurate with the increase realized by the players. Players should make more, and as the league has become more popular, they are valued more. Referees, unlike players, are seen as more replaceable.

But I do think you can potentially increase the salaries of the referees a little bit more to lessen the temptation of taking money. I know if seems like they make a fortune, but realize that some of the games they are controlling, have millions of dollars on the line. Perhaps more importantly, the integrity of the game is also at risk.

At Least He Can See!
As NBA reporters go through boxscores to see where the teams they cover might have been cheating, at least it looks like Tim Donaghy didn't have any problems seeing. Here's his endorsement for Siepser Laser Eyecare in Wayne, Pa. Scroll all the way down to the second to last testimonial. I think he had the over on his 20/20 vision!

Dear Dr. Siepser,

"My contacts were very uncomfortable and were constantly drying out when I was on the floor. I am much more comfortable and my vision is great. Thanks to Dr. Siepser."

Tim Donaghy NBA referee

Questions?  Comments?