The late Darell Garretson, a Redbird athlete credited with shaping collegiate basketball officiating, was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame during the fall.
A native of Long Point, Garretson played on the ISU men’s basketball “B” team during the 1950-1951 season. He was inducted into the Illinois State Athletics Percy Family Hall of Fame in 1983 in recognition of his contributions to the game of basketball.
After serving in the U.S. Navy, Garretson officiated recreational, high school and college basketball games while working as a salesman. His life changed when he was hired by the National Basketball Association in 1967, initially to serve as chief of staff over officials.
Garretson’s career included officiating five NBA All-Star games. He was eventually put in charge of supervising, assigning, training and evaluating the NBA officiating crew. He is praised for increasing the number of referees from two to three beginning in the 1988-1989 season, allowing for better coverage of the entire court.
The concept of refereeing the defense also began with Garretson. He encouraged officials to put their focus on a defensive player instead of keeping their attention on the ball. He was instrumental in organizing and heading the National Association of Basketball Referees, which was the first representation available to those handling officiating.
From 1981 until 1998, Garretson served as NBA chief of officiating staff and as director of officials. He is the only person to hold the leadership role while still serving as a referee. He retired in 1994 and died in 2008.
Garretson was one of 10 individuals named to the national hall of fame in 2016. Others chosen for the honor included NBA All-Star Allen Iveson; Tom Izzo, twice named NABC Coach of the Year; John McLendon, first African-American professional league coach; NBA Finals MVP Shaquille O’Neal; and four-time WNBA champion Sheryl Swoopes.
Illinois State men’s basketball great Doug Collins ’73 was also honored during the fall with induction into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame, as reported in the August 2016 issue of Illinois State.