Tom Lopes, Ocean Pines, Md., former NCAA Division I men’s college basketball official and currently the executive director of the International Association of Approved Basketball Officials (IAABO), will receive the 2019 Gold Whistle Award, presented by NASO. The award, the highest honor in officiating, will be presented in Spokane, Wash., on Tuesday, July 30, during the Celebrate Officiating Gala, sponsored by Fox 40 International, which caps the 2019 Sports Officiating Summit
NASO President Barry Mano said Lopes’ “leadership in training basketball officials has set an especially high bar for our industry. He’s taken many of the best teaching methods and established continuous training for officials from their rookie year through high school.”
Lopes, 76, officiated college basketball for 40 years (35 at the D-I level), including 20 consecutive NCAA tournaments and three Final Fours. His received the Naismith College Official of the Year Award in 1997. He also served as supervisor of men’s basketball officials for the Northeast Conference 2007-2014.
Lopes has been a member of IAABO for 52 years, including 12 as executive director. He serves as a consultant to the NFHS Basketball Rules Committee and helps produce the NFHS Basketball Rules Video. He retires from his IAABO executive director position June 30, 2019.
“I was shocked when I found out about the Gold Whistle Award,” Lopes said. “I never thought I would be considered for it. My background as an educator helped me both on and off the floor. Hopefully I’ve made a difference in the training of officials.”
Lopes served for 39 years as a teacher, guidance counselor, principal and assistant principal all with the Keansburg School District, culminating in his position as superintendent from 1995-1996. He put his educator background to good use at IAABO.
“There have been a lot of training changes since I became executive director of IAABO. We’ve added digital, PowerPoints, video and video casebooks to create continuous training by topic. We’ve taken the best teaching methods available and shared them as widely as possible. We send what we develop to our IAABO interpreters to share with their boards, and that ensures consistency of our messages.”
Lopes credits Bob Kanaby (NFHS executive director from 1993-2010 and former executive director of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association), the late Edgar Cartotto (former NEC supervisor of men’s basketball officials), Art Hyland (former supervisor of Big East men’s basketball officials and current NCAA men’s secretary-rules editor), the late John Guthrie (former SEC supervisor of men’s basketball officials) and Hank Nichols (former NCAA national coordinator of men’s basketball officiating) for his success on the hardwood. Lopes hasn’t forgotten his roots in New Jersey, having addressed the NJSIAA fall clinic on sportsmanship and providing a student-athlete scholarship through IAABO.
“Tom Lopes is an exceptional leader, whose communication and management skills are unmatched,” said Donnie Eppley, IAABO associate executive director. “During his time as the executive director of IAABO, he has reestablished relationships with several key organizations, such as NASO, REI, NFHS, FIBA and the NCAA. Tom has continued to push IAABO forward in all areas, including technology and fiscal management. When he is in a room, he is in command and makes everyone feel at ease. My only wish is that he would serve another 10 years and we could retire together.”
Mano added, “Tom stirs officials to pay attention to training, which is a rare gift. He’s taken IAABO materials, partnered with NASO, presenting them during our annual Summit and Officiate State Day. Tom’s sessions are always highly ranked and very popular. Tom’s enthusiasm is uplifting.”