The Missouri Valley Football Conference doesn't like its coaching staffs to get to know the officials working their games.
"We don't want the familiarity," MVFC commissioner Patty Viverito said. "That's one of our criteria. We want the officials and coaches to see a wide range from all over this region."
But the 2020 season is likely going to break that setup.
The MVFC, UND's new league home for football in 2020, is working on plans to regionalize its officials in order to limit or prevent flight trips amid the coronavirus pandemic.
UND's two other conference homes -- the National Collegiate Hockey Conference and the Summit League -- also said they're looking at potential alterations to their officials operations.
"We'll try, to the best of our ability, to keep officials off planes," Viverito said.
The MVFC is part of a three-conference consortium for Midwest officials. The other members are the Big Ten Conference and the Mid-American Conference.
"We have talked candidly about our assignments being more geographically prudent," Viverito said. "We'll probably have teams see the same official more than normal."
The Summit League is part of a six-conference consortium for basketball officials (Big Ten, Horizon League, Mid-American, Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and America East).
"We are part of a consortium of basketball officials and a representative from each of the six conferences within it has been participating in bi-weekly meetings to discuss developments with the pandemic," said Summit League assistant commissioner Ryan Powell. "Several changes have been discusses, but no definitive decisions have been made yet.
"Some of the topics being discussed include: regional assigning as much as possible, keeping the same crews together for a weekend of games to avoid cross contamination among officials along with several health-related measures to ensure all involved have cleared certain screening protocols."
Powell said the consortium is also looking at creating a directory of standby or on-call officials to fill in if the need arises.
Whistles could change in hockey
The NCHC, which features member schools based in North Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, Nebraska and Colorado, has created a Health and Safety Competitions Committee to discuss issues in returning to play, including officiating.
That committee features one member from each institution, mainly medical personnel. They had their first call last week. One of the league's supervisors of officials, Minot-based Mike Schmitt, also is on that committee to discuss officials-related operations.
Travel is not an issue for linesmen in the NCHC. They are all already local.
But it could be an issue for referees, which live across the country. Two of the NCHC's most frequently used referees live in the Boston and San Francisco areas.
"The travel piece is something we're discussing and how practical regionalization can be," NCHC commissioner Josh Fenton said. "We've got to determine what that regionalization means. We've talked about things like some type of screening for officials before they come into a venue as part of our committee."
One potential change that will be discussed is whether to go to electronic whistles for officials. That idea isn't specific to hockey, but it would have an added benefit in hockey.
Not only would that keep officials from blowing into whistles repeatedly, which may not be a good idea for preventing virus spread. It also would open the door for officials to wear full face shields instead of half shields, which they currently use.
"All of our decision-making will be guided by the medical community and what medical experts are indicating what could or should be done for healthy and safe competitions and environments," Fenton said. "We're still gathering a lot of information. The NCAA has started to put out a little information, which has been helpful."
The NCHC also has been in contact with other college conferences to exchange information.
"We're reaching out to other hockey leagues just to see what protocols they're thinking about or ready to put in place for officials," Fenton said. "We hope to gather the best info we can from others and apply what we can to create a healthy and safe environment for everybody."