NCAA Coordinator of Basketball Officials
In a profession where he could never make everyone happy, Hank Nichols did his level best to make it fair and good for the game…and he wrote the book on it.
The man considered the pre-eminent basketball official and a respected supervisor of college basketball’s whistle-blowers is a native of Niagara Falls who lettered in three sports at Bishop Duffy High School. Earning a baseball scholarship to Villanova, Hank played four years, captained the Wildcats his senior year and was MVP of the team that went to the NCAA baseball tournament. After graduation and service to his country in the Marine Corps, Hank played professional baseball with the Cincinnati Reds organization before returning to Villanova to obtain his master’s degree and then to his hometown to teach and coach at several schools in Niagara Falls. He earned a doctorate from Duke University, after which he joined the faculty at Villanova, where he served for 26 years as professor and later as department chair of education and human services.
Over the years, Hank developed keen insights into the game’s management, working Atlantic 10, ACC and Big East conference contests, among others. By the time he hung up his whistle, he had officiated a record six NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship games, 10 NCAA Final Fours, three NIT Tournament Finals and two Olympics. He was also the first official to work the NCAA and NIT Championship Basketball Final in the same year.
After years of running the floor, he earned the opportunity to serve as NCAA National Officiating Coordinator of Men’s Basketball – a post he held for 20 years. During that time, he was secretary/editor of the NCAA rules committee and wrote most of the language on officiating. In 1996 Referee Magazine selected Hank as one of 20 people in the world who influenced basketball officiating during the previous two decades.
Hank, who received the first-ever National Invitation Tournament’s Officials Award in 1985, has been inducted into numerous halls of fame including the Villanova University Athletic, State of Pennsylvania Athletic, Philadelphia Athletic, Bishop Duffy Athletic, and is the only referee in the Philadelphia ‘Big 5’ Hall of Fame. He has also been a nominee for the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.