Alabama Sports Officials Hall of Fame’s Class of 2020 To Induct 12 Outstanding Contest Officials

Twelve of Alabama’s most outstanding contest officials have been selected for induction into the Alabama Sports Officials Foundation (ASOF) Hall of Fame in the Class of 2020. The organization had its inaugural induction in 2019.

Selected for induction into the ASOF’s second class are Patsy Burke, Owen Butts, Reggie Copeland, Kevin Fehr, Bill Gaulden, Paul Greene, Glenn Hawkins, Jeff Hilyer, Mark Jones, Dana Wallace, James Wilson, and Houston Young.

The Class of 2020 includes individuals who have varied officiating backgrounds – from high school to college and professional sports. The individuals have played important roles in training and developing contest officials in Alabama as well as mentoring and raising the level of consistency and professionalism in the state. The selections were made by a special ASOF Hall of Fame Committee from nominations submitted.

Greg Brewer, the spokesperson for the ASOF, said the induction ceremony is expected to be held in August.

The Class includes officials who have officiated in the NFL, NBA, NCAA, NAIA, and AHSAA. All have been recognized as outstanding leaders and mentors at every level.

Details of the induction ceremony date will be released at a later date.

Below is the Class of 2020:


PATSY BURKE: Burke, who currently lives in Daphne, served 25 years at the UAB School of Medicine’s Department of Family Medicine and became involved with volleyball as a statistician at Pelham High School. Upon her retirement from her “first” career at UAB, she moved into volleyball and softball officiating – rising to the top as one the state and nation’s most knowledgeable experts in both sports and one of both sports’ most devoted leaders. She has officiated high school volleyball for 25 years, beginning in the Birmingham Volleyball Officials Association (BVOA) and now with the North Baldwin Volleyball Association (NBVBOA). She served as president of the BVOA and a board member and alternate assignor for the NBVBOA. She is the head clinician for the AHSAA State Volleyball Camp, serves on the board of the National Federation of Rules for Volleyball, is the AHSAA State Rules Interpreter and AHSAA State Camp Director, and served on the NFHS Rules Committee from 2010-2014.
     She was an AHSAA softball official from 1996-2014 serving as a past president and treasurer of the Central Alabama Softball Officials Association. Burke also was a collegiate volleyball and softball official for more than 15 years working with the NAIA, SEC, OVC, Conference USA, and Gulf South Conference and continues to work countless hours each year promoting junior volleyball. Referee Magazine also published articles by Burke in 2016 and 2017.


OWEN BUTTS: The long-time high school basketball and football coach and teacher has also spent his adult life devoted to umpiring baseball. An AHSAA umpire since 1973, Butts has been president and assignor for the Shelby County Baseball Umpires Association since 1975.  He has served as an AHSAA Baseball Camp instructor and received the AHSAA Distinguished Service Award in 2000. The Alabama Baseball Coaches Association also presented Butts its Distinguished Service Award in 2001.
  He has also served as a college baseball umpire since 1990 and has been the ACU assignor since 1995. His college umpiring achievements include officiating eight Ohio Valley Conference tournaments, four NCAA Division II World Series, four NAIA Regionals, and six Alabama Junior College Conference (AJCC) state tournaments.
  Butts, who is now retired from teaching and coaching, was described by one nominator as “He has trained many of the state’s top high school and college umpires for the last 47 years and is always a teacher. He continues to make (us) a better official and game manager.”


REGGIE COPELAND:  The granddaddy of basketball officiating is 90 years old and still working diligently to make a difference in the Mobile area. A past president of the Mobile City Council, Copeland, a Murphy High School graduate, is considered one of the top high school and college officials in the nation. He began officiating basketball in the AHSAA in 1952 – participating in four state tournaments. The Southeastern Conference recruited him 10 years later and he spent the next 25 years as one of the busiest basketball officials around. He worked SEC, Sunbelt, Metro, Southwest Conference, and Gulf States Conference games. He was selected to work the NCAA Tourney in 1970, called the Final Four in 1972 and 1977, and was ranked the nation’s top college basketball official in 1977. He served as Coordinator of Officials for the Southern States Conference.
  Copeland has been inducted into the Spring Hill College Hall of Fame (1980); Mobile Sports HOF (1990); Mobile Little League HOF (2007); Murphy HS HOF (2009); was selected a Knight of St. Gregory the Great (2006); Mobilian of the Year (2011); received the Metro Mobile Golden Eagle Award (2011), and served on the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame board for six years.

News clip highlighting Reggie Copeland


KEVIN FEHR: The former Birmingham area high school teacher and baseball coach at John Carroll and Thompson high schools began officiating basketball in 1981 when he was serving as an assistant baseball coach at Gulf Coast Community College in Panama City (FL). He has officiated basketball ever since – working his way through the ranks at the high school, college, and NBA level. The UAB baseball alumnus moved back to Birmingham in 1982 and began officiating high school basketball in the Birmingham Basketball Officials Association (BBOA) and later the Magic City Basketball Officials Association (MCBOA) for the next decade. He worked the AHSAA State Boys’ and Girls’ Basketball State Tourney from 1989-1992.
    He moved into college ranks in 1989 – working in the SEC Gulf South, Sun Belt, Transamerica, and Alabama Junior College conferences through 1994.  He worked the SEC Men’s Tourney in 1993 and 1994, the NIT Tourney (1993), and the NCAA (1994). He was hired by the NBA in 1995 through 2013. Among his NBA highlights was working a game with the Lakers when Kobe Bryant scored 81 points (2006); officiated the NBA Rookie All-Star Game (2003); called NBA games played in Mexico City (1996) and China (2013) and officiated the NBA All-Star Game in Los Angeles (2011). He returned to college officiating in 2015 appearing in the SEC Tourney and the NIT Tourney.
  Fehr was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals when he completed his college baseball career at UAB, where he earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Education and spent two years in the minors. He was named Shelby County Baseball Coach of the Year at Thompson High School in 1988.


BILL GAULDEN: The Birmingham native has officiated basketball in the AHSAA for 57 years and at the college level for 40 years. He has officiated softball at the high school and college level for four decades. He has officiated numerous AHSAA state championships and many college post-season tournaments. Gaulden had an outstanding career as a fast-pitch softball catcher and manager for many years – and transitioned smoothly into umpiring slow-pitch and fast-pitch softball. In addition to his many AHSAA state tournaments, he was a mainstay in USA Softball working two men's major fast-pitch tournaments in 1992 and 1996 along with the Olympic Sports Festival Tournament at Rice University – earning elite status as an umpire. After retiring as a USA umpire in 2002, he became  Umpire-In-Chief for Alabama USA serving in that role at many national USA tournaments.
  He also served as Supervisor of Basketball and Softball Officials for the Gulf South Conference and served in the same softball capacity for the Southern States Conference. A clinician for more than 30 years for high school and college basketball and softball training camps, he was inducted into the Alabama ASA Softball Hall of Fame in 1993. He currently resides in Montevallo.


PAUL GREENE: Mobile’s Greene has officiated basketball and football for 57 years – including at the college level for 32 years. Beginning his officiating career in 1963, he still serves as a mentor and instructor for other officials. He served in the Mobile Metro Football Officials Association for more than 40 years and received the AHSAA Distinguished Service Award for 42 years of service in 2005. He officiated in the AHSAA State Basketball tournament for more than 20 years and still remains active as an instructor and observer. As a college basketball official, he worked at the NCAA Southwest Regional at Baton Rouge in 1986. His passion has been his mentoring, however. “The contribution he has made helping to develop many of the AHSAA’s current and past officials have been priceless,” said nominator and current Mobile Metro president Jeffrey McCurley.


GLENN HAWKINS: The 1944 graduate from Alexandria High School and 1952 Jacksonville State University graduate began his journey in officiating immediately out of high school. Sixty years later, he was still officiating football and basketball at the high school level – encouraging and mentoring young officials to get in the game. The Anniston native was a founding member of the East Alabama Officials Association for football, basketball, baseball, and volleyball. A fixture at the Calhoun County basketball tourney for decades, he continued to keep the clock in football and basketball even when his health in his later years prevented him from officiating on the field., Hawkins was a fixture at high school events in and around Calhoun County and most Jacksonville State events and was named an honorary coach in 2007.
  He devoted most of his life to the betterment of not only high school officiating but high school athletics for the youth that participated. He was inducted into the Calhoun County Sports Hall of Fame in 1998 and received the National Contributor Award from the NFHS.
    He was a proud World War II Navy veteran and also a staunch conservationist who volunteered for over 40 years to aid in the effort to improve, protect, and preserve our state's natural resources. Now deceased, he passed away at age 82 in 2009.


JEFF HILYER: He became one of the state’s top football officials – climbing through the ranks to officiate at the NCAA and professional football level in a career that has spanned 40 years. He has distinguished himself at every level. He was a founding member of the Big East Football Officials Association in Phenix City and has been a key camp instructor. He was named the AHSAA District and State Football Official of the Year in 2002; he was chosen Sun Belt Conference Official of the Year in 2012; and received the AHSAA Distinguished Service Award in 2012. He has worked numerous playoff and championship games in the AHSAA and has represented Alabama by serving on the Board of Directors of the NFHS Officials Association. He served as board president in 2000-2001. He also served a four-year term on the NFHS Football Rules Editorial Committee and is currently the AHSAA State Rules Interpreter for football.  In 2014, he received the NFHS Officials Citation Award as National High School Official of the Year.
  As a college football official, he has worked games in the Southeastern Conference, Gulf South Conference, and Sun Belt Conference – and has also worked several college bowl games. More recently, when he stepped away from college officiating he became the replay official for the Sun Belt. He is also the AHSAA consultant on its Instant Replay program currently being used and is the AHSAA’s replay official at the Super 7 Football Championships.
  Hilyer, who resides in Opelika, has mentored officials at every level – and continued to officiate high school and youth league games even after he became a college contest official.

See a news article about Jeff Hilyer here.


MARK JONES: A veteran football, basketball, and baseball official who officiated a variety of sports for 42 years, Jones, a 1978 graduate of Guntersville High School, also earned his Bachelor’s degree in Education from Jacksonville State University in 1982 and a Masters in physical education in 1984. He became the AHSAA Director of Officials in 2016 after serving for more than three decades in various leadership roles at Jacksonville State University. He officiated high school basketball, football, and baseball during his career spending eight years officiating women’s basketball in the NCAA as well. He taught sports officiating at JSU for 28 years. He was a founding member of the Mt. Cheaha Basketball Officials Association and the Coosa Valley Officials Association – while serving as an assignor in basketball, instructor in football, and served in various leadership roles at the local associations. He also was an AHSAA District Director for eight years, a Football instructor for 14 years and was selected AHSAA State Football Official of the Year in 2001. He served as a referee in the 1997 Super 6 Class 5A finals and again in 2006 in the 6A championship game.
    In his role at the AHSAA, in addition to his duties managing and training more than 7,000 contest officials, Jones has spearheaded the AHSAA’s football Instant Replay program, which is beginning its third-year next fall. In his role overseeing AHSAA officiating, he has helped bring officiating stipends in line with other state associations and has also utilized the latest technology to streamline the assigning and payment process. He currently serves on the NFHS National Football Rules Committee. A member of NIRSA and NASO, Jones also served as a Jacksonville City Councilman for eight years from 2008-2016.

See a news clip about Mark Jones here

News clip highlighting Mark Jones

WSFA Interview with Mark Jones


DANA WALLACE: The Haleyville High School graduate who resides in Montgomery officiated football for 21 years, basketball for 18, softball for 21 years, and baseball for 15. He officiated in 11 AHSAA state softball tournaments, worked two Super 6 football finals (1996 and 1998), one AHSAA state baseball championship series, and served as the AHSAA Southeast District Director for 18 years. He served as president of his local basketball and softball officials associations and was assignor for softball. A volunteer at many AHSAA events, he served on numerous AHSAA officiating committees.
  Wallace received the AHSAA Distinguished Service Award for Officials, was selected Official of the Year, and was inducted into the Winston County Sports Hall of Fame.  Active in ASA softball as well, he worked in the Philippine National Championships. Also s minister, he is also active in his community with membership in the Montgomery Kiwanis Club.


JAMES WILSON: The Huntsville-Butler High School graduate (1967), who now lives in Memphis (TN), moved from the high school ranks to the college and professional ranks rapidly in his officiating career. He attended Eastern Kentucky University where he was a four-year letterman at tight end and was elected team captain and MVP as a senior in 1971. He went to work for Ford Motor Company shortly after graduation in 1972 and stayed with Ford, first in Louisville and Dallas and later in Memphis, for the next 34 years. He began his long tenure in officiating after accompanying a friend to a high school all-star game in Louisville (KY) in 1974. He joined the Kentuckiana Football Officials Association (1974-1984), moved to the Dallas (TX) Officials Association (1985-1989) and moved into the college ranks in 1981 with the Midwest Officials Association, Ohio Valley Conference (1983-1984) and Southeastern Conference, where he served for 13 years from 1985-1997.
  He worked several Bowl Games during that time including the Kickoff Classic (1991), Cotton Bowl (1995), and Rose Bowl (1998). He served on the SEC Officials’ Board of Directors and was the head linesman crew chief from 1996-1998. He moved into the professional ranks with NFL/Europe in 1997 – officiating the NFL Europe World Bowl in 1998. He joined the National Football League as an on-the-field official from 1998-2003, then as a replay assistant from 2004-2007 and an official observer (2012 and 2013). He has been working as an officiating scout with the NFL since 2015.
    Wilson was inducted the Huntsville-Madison County Athletic Hall of Fame (2014), the Kentuckiana Football Officials Hall of Fame (2008), and the Athletic Boosters’ Club (ABC) of Huntsville Hall of Fame in 1994.


HOUSTON YOUNG: The Selma native and veteran track official is considered one of the nation’s top authorities in track and field. And for good reason. He is still going strong as one of the busiest track officials in the nation. He has been an official at the AHSAA Outdoor State Track Championships for 52 straight years – serving as the meet director for the past 20 years. He is also the AHSAA Track and Field Rules Interpreter for indoor and outdoor track and has served as the meet director for the AHSAA Indoor State Track Championships for six years. Young, who is the officia1s coordinator for two college conferences, is one of the top college track officials as well – serving as the NAIA National Championships meet director for six years and an official at the meet for 13 years. He has worked in various capacities -- as a starter, throws official and meet director – and an instructor at district camps for five decades. Among his other highlights, he was the starter at the NCAA Division I National Indoor Championships in 2019, the starter for the NCAA Division II Indoor Championships in 2013, and the starter for the NCAA Division III Championships in 2018.
    Young is a member of the Port City Track Officials Association in Mobile, the AHSAA Officials Association, and the United States Track and Field Association (USATF). He was named the AHSAA District Official of the Year (2005), the State Track Official of the Year (2008), and received the NFHS Citation Award in 2010 as the national official of the year. Young was inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame in 2012. 

News Interview of Houston Young


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