Mike Eades

In this 2007 file photo, basketball referee Mike Eades takes a break from an officiating assignment in a Raleigh County gymnasium.  The Princeton native, who has since risen in his profession to officiate college basketball games at the highest levels — including the NCAA Final Four —was recently named Coordinator of Men’s Basketball Officials governing the Southeastern Conference and four other associated conferences.

PRINCETON — Mike Eades was planning on continuing to be a college basketball official for the next six to eight years barring poor health.

Instead the Princeton native is hanging up his whistle and stepping off the floor as the Coordinator of Men’s Basketball Officials for a consortium of conferences led by the Southeastern Conference.

Being contacted to see if he was interested in the job surprised Eades who has fully recovered from an injury suffered during a game in January 2019.

“When I was approached about the job it caught me off guard and I couldn’t even give them a response whether I was interested or not,” Eades said.

Eades is one of six people in the country at the Division I level who hold the title of Coordinator of Men’s Basketball Officials for a consortium of conferences.

“Opportunities like this don’t come open much and it’s something I’ve always wanted to do and I didn’t know if I’d ever get the chance because a lot of it has to do with timing,” Eades said.

The Bluefield State graduate has been a Division I official for 24 years including three Final Fours. Prior to taking this job Eades was the Supervisor of Men’s Basketball Officials for the Mountain East Conference since 2013 and the River States Conferences beginning in 2018.

The timing of the position being open worked well for Eades who would have had a different answer in 2015.

“If this would have been five years ago I would have said no. I wouldn’t have been interested,” Eades said.

Eades has spent most of his recently officiating games in the Atlantic Coast Conference but is excited to work in the SEC doing what he has wanted his next chapter to be.

“It’s a great opportunity in the SEC, it’s a great league and the challenges to make the referees the best they can be which we’ll all work together,” Eades said. “I look forward to the next step in my career and hope to be there as long as they’ll have me.”

Since the announcement Tuesday, Eades has received over 1,000 emails, text and calls from people all over the country which he plans to respond to each one no matter how long it takes him.

“It’s very humbling to see all these people who’ve reached out and then who some of them are whether they are name people or just people that I’ve known throughout my life,” Eades said.

In his role Eades will be selecting, training, evaluating and assigning officials for games in all five conferences.

Throughout his career as an official Eades has gained a lot of knowledge and he sees it as his responsibility to teach the officials who will be on the court for the next 20 years.

“Those who have the knowledge they need to give it to others to keep this thing going so when I’m gone those people can take knowledge they have and give it to others and it just continues on,” Eades said.

The new job will stop Eades from what he describes as the ‘referee high’ that occurs for officials at big games, of which he had his share in the ACC and at the NCAA Tournament.

“You got two really good teams and the crowd’s crazy, it’s on ESPN or CBS and the place has a buzz to it and you walk out there right before the game starts and you feel it and that’s a high that I’ll never be able to experience again and I’ll miss that,” Eades said.

He also won’t have the same camaraderie with other officials as he will not be out on the court with them but overseeing them.

There were plenty of things that Eades will not miss about the job with being able to spend more time at home instead of constantly traveling for games throughout the season.

“I won’t miss being away from home I got a wife, son and two dogs,” Eades said. “I won’t miss the early morning flights getting up at 4:30 to catch a six o’clock flight.”

He will still deal with coaches complaining about calls, just not during games but afterwards.

Eades’ sees good referees in the SEC with his job to make them better however he can.

“They’re some good referees in our league and I just want to make them better and help them achieve the goals that they’re trying to achieve,” Eades said.

Contact Eric Walker at sports@bdtonline.com

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