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104484 SUP Other
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About the Softball Umpire Program
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The Mission of the NCAA Softball Umpire Program is to improve the overall quality of umpiring throughout college softball by:
  • Identifying, observing, training and evaluating umpires for assignment to NCAA Division I, II and III Regionals/First Rounds and National Championships.
  • Providing consistency in the interpretation of NCAA softball rules and umpiring mechanics.
  • Promoting better communication between umpires, coaches, and the NCAA.


The NCAA Softball Umpire Advisory Staff has identified the following areas as priorities:
  • Develop a standardized national form for use in evaluation by national staff, conference coordinators and qualified observers.
  • Develop guidelines for selection of umpires for NCAA postseason tournaments.
  • Develop curriculum to standardize umpire education in the methods used to promote selection to postseason play.
  • Serve as a resource for conferences who wish to implement a comprehensive training program for their umpires.

History of the Softball Umpire Program

In 2000, the NCAA Division I Softball Committee created and funded the Softball Umpire Improvement Program (SUIP). Jeff Hansen was hired as national coordinator with the responsibility of creating a format to assist the conferences in implementing a formal training and evaluation program for the purpose of standardizing the way the game is umpired throughout the country. The need for standardization of mechanics, positioning and philosophy throughout the country existed as far back as the early 1980s and has become even more necessary as softball has grown in popularity and parity.

After a year of planning, the following items were implemented in late 2001 in preparation for the 2002 season: four regional coordinators were hired to assist the national and conference programs; a national umpire evaluation form was established; selection guidelines were established for assignment to both Division I regionals and the Women’s College World Series (WCWS); a web site was created for umpires; and an annual conference coordinator meeting was planned to kick off the 2003 season. The Softball Umpire Improvement Program (SUIP) was given the responsibility of selecting umpires for Division I postseason play beginning in 2002.

In 2003 the SUIP introduced a comprehensive umpire mechanics manual, reduced the staff of regional coordinators to two, and established an observation program consisting of the national staff and six national observation team members. In 2004, the SUIP held a series of three regional clinics across the country. In 2005 the SUIP assumed responsibility for selecting umpires for all Division II postseason play as well as for the newly added format of super regionals at the Division I level.

Jeff Hansen resigned as national coordinator at the end of the 2005 season, and Kathy Strahm, a former regional coordinator, took the helm beginning with the 2006 season. A new regional coordinator was hired to fill the vacancy left by Strahm. In 2006, the SUIP was given the responsibility of selecting umpires for Division III postseason play, thus making the SUIP responsible for selecting umpires for all NCAA postseason play. Regional clinics jumped to four in 2007 and five in 2008 and 2009.

From 2003 through 2007 this manual was published and distributed by the NCAA. In 2008, the Collegiate Commissioners Association (CCA) in cooperation with Referee Enterprises Incorporated (REI) became the publishers and distributors of this manual.

In 2009 Division I opted to use progressive selecting from the regionals on. Thus, umpires were selected for the Division I super regionals at the conclusion of the regionals and for WCWS at the conclusion of the super regionals. This same year Division II added super regionals to their postseason format. All postseason communication in 2009 was done entirely online. This included recommendations, consideration and selection letters, availabilities, assignments and reports. Assignments were made through

In 2010, Donna Vavrinec a former National Championship umpire and member of the National Observation team was  named the new National Coordinator. Under her leadership the SUIP was changed to SUP to incorporate the philosophy that improvement was only a part of the program and that we will still work to identify, train and evaluate umpires for post season competition. Four Regional Advisors were named  to aid in the communication between coaches, coordinators and umpires.

The 2011 Division I regional and super regional competition had assigned non working UIC’s. The UIC was responsible for all administrative duties while the umpires assigned maintained their top priority-umpiring. The progressive selection process was also used in Division II Regional  and Super Regional.

The regional advisors role became the link from the SUP to the coordinators and coaches. Information was relayed to keep them informed of current rule interpretations, manual and bat list updates.

The central HUB will continue to be an integral part of an umpire’s development by allowing current information to be conveyed across the nation at the same time

In 2012 Division I,II,III umpires who wish to be considered for a postseason assignment are required to register with the NCAA(Central Hub), view the clinic and pass the rules/mechanics test.

The SUP was created to provide the framework for umpires who are serious about an umpire’s responsibility in and to the game and want to enhance their performance level.  This program will provide the tools to allow each umpire to reach their goals.

By adopting and embracing the philosophy, standards, expectations, objectives and mechanics of this program, an umpire will discover a better way to umpire and provide a better product for every institution served.

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