The Obit For Bobby Scott

Scott refereed the NCAA ‘Game of the Century 02/06/2010

By Elaine Ayala - Express-News

Bobby Scott, a referee at the 1968 NCAA matchup between UCLA and the University of Houston, a highly anticipated event dubbed the “Game of the Century” because it paved the way to televised “March Madness” coverage, died Jan. 30 in his home in San Antonio.

Scott was remembered as “perhaps the best basketball official of all time.”

He was 79.

The game in the Houston Astrodome was the first NCAA men's basketball regular-season game to be aired in prime time. A player named Lew Alcindor was UCLA's center that year. He'd later be known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Elvin Hayes, Houston's center, would go on to play for the Washington Bullets and Houston Rockets. Both are in the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Scott had a reputation as a perfectionist. He called games as he saw them, never worrying about what coaches, players or fans thought of him. The lady that hit him on the head with her purse didn't faze him. Neither did irate fans that ran him out of a stadium. Luckily, a cab was standing by.

Fellow basketball referees admired his professionalism. This week, as his family dealt with their loss, a few of the players who might not have liked him on the court called to offer condolences.

“It's pretty remarkable that people he refereed 45 years ago have called,” his daughter Gail Collins said.

Scott, who came to San Antonio 10 years ago, suffered longtime chronic pain and was in declining health for several months.

Collins described her father as fiercely competitive. “He wasn't very big in size, but he was very determined to win,” she said. He was occasionally short-tempered.

During his freshman year at Arkansas State University, he lettered in football, baseball, basketball and track. He was told he was the first to attain that distinction.

Though he became a college basketball official, his passion was baseball.

He played minor league ball, never breaking into the majors. He would joke that he got pretty far without athletic skills. He played with Wally Moon, who advanced to St. Louis and the Los Angeles Dodgers; Brooks Robinson of the Baltimore Orioles; and George Kell, who played for Detroit, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago and Baltimore.

After six years in the minors, Scott taught, coached and refereed.

When he retired as supervisor of officials for the Missouri Valley Conference in the late '70s, a sportswriter wrote, “The career of perhaps the best basketball official of all time may have ended.”

Scott refereed the NCAA Final Four in 1970 and '72.