By Greg Gulas
For 21 years, Lowellville native Joe DeRosa navigated the NBA as a top official, where he was rewarded with 11 Finals assignments over an eight-year period.
Returning to his roots and the college game the past two seasons, he quickly asserted himself as one of the NCAA’s top officials and in March earned his first Final Four selection when he worked the Kentucky-Louisville game.
Add an Olympic Games assignment in 1996 — the bronze medal game which was won by Lithuania — and he is one of just two officials to have worked the top games in all three divisions of the sport.
Speaking to the Curbstone Coaches at their weekly luncheon meeting, he told Monday’s gathering at the Blue Wolf Banquet Center the biggest difference between the NBA and the college game is the rules.
“There are over 500 differences when it comes to the rules and while they are little differences, they can be costly if not called the right way,” he said.
“From technical fouls to where you put the ball in play to the use of replay, it can become confusing at times.”
DeRosa served as a college official from the 1986-89 seasons when he worked in the Southeastern, Ohio Valley, Metro and Sun Belt conferences.
His affiliations the past two years include the Big 12, Atlantic 10, Missouri Valley, Conference USA and Horizon League.
Working 65 games this season, his schedule included three YSU at Beeghly Center.
He noted that travel for a college basketball official isn’t as taxing.
“In both college and the NBA, officials are responsible for making their own travel arrangements. Unlike the NBA, a college official gets to set his own schedule.
Not all of DeRosa’s ties to the NBA have been severed, however, as he serves as one of the league’s newly created development assistants.
“I go to games, mostly in Cleveland or if I have an off-day in a city with an NBA affiliation, watch the game and then head to the officials’ locker room after the game to talk about plays, what’s going around the league and in general, helping them become a better official,” he said.
DeRosa has also been assigned to watch playoff games on television. He has to file reports based on every call and non-call.
“I file two play-by-play breakdown reports with the league; the first a complete play-by-play and the other a recap with pertinent plays basically summarizing the first report,” he said.
The Curbstone Coaches will adjourn for the summer with regular meetings resuming in September.