TMCNet:  Detroit Free Press Mick McCabe column

[March 15, 2013]

Detroit Free Press Mick McCabe column

Mar 15, 2013 (Detroit Free Press - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- The sudden finality to a loss in the basketball state tournament has always felt like a kick in the gut to Farmington Hills Mercy girls coach Gary Morris.


For months you prepare your team and a missed shot here or there and -- poof -- the season is over and you will never coach that group of players again.

But this year's loss, a gut-wrenching double-overtime regional final game against Detroit King on March 7, was even more devastating than usual.

Perhaps it was the astonishing lane violation an official called wiping out a Mercy lead in the second overtime. Or maybe it was another official -- Linda Favors -- calling a technical foul on a Mercy player after the lane violation call.

Favors also whistled what appeared to be a phantom foul on Mercy with 1 second left in regulation to put King at the free-throw line with a chance to win the game, but the free throw was missed.

It was little consolation to Morris many people, including casual fans, game officials and custodians at Southfield High, were telling him his team had been robbed in the 44-39 loss.

The next day, Morris and his players learned Favors is a King graduate. But more than that, she is also the assigner of officials for the Detroit Public School League.

Morris reviewed the game tape and was even more appalled than he was the previous night.

"I see no-calls when there should have been two free throws for us," he said. "When she was underneath at the end we were attacking, you'd see where our kids would get fouled and she called nothing." Favors did not return phone calls asking for a response, but texted: "You have to contact Nate Hampton of the MHSAA." Hampton is an assistant director of the Michigan High School Athletic Association, and he said Favors did not violate MHSAA's guidelines when working the game as a King graduate because she graduated more than five years ago. But that she is the assigner of officials for the PSL and worked the game is preposterous.

The MHSAA tells officials if there is a perceived conflict of interest to notify the association, which Favors did not do.

"Would we maybe had had a discussion and talked through some things and maybe looked at the perception of things " Hampton said. "We maybe would have recommended something different, but I don't know that. We didn't have that conversation." Here is the next conversation the MHSAA needs to have with Favors: You can no longer work any state tournament games. Period.

Favors is an employee of the PSL and part of her livelihood relies on remaining in the good graces of the PSL. If that isn't a conflict of interest, I don't know what is.

If Favors truly did not know it was a conflict, then she doesn't have the judgment to officiate a game of checkers.

Contact Mick McCabe: 313-223-4744 or mmccabe@freepress.com . Follow him on Twitter @mickmccabe1.

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