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Bova, Phil

Phil Bova

Induction Year : 2003

Sport: Basketball

A three-sport at Cleveland West High, where he captained the baseball, basketball and football teams, he appeared on track to a professional baseball career after earning All-Ohio diamond honors at West in 1964 and subsequently playing for two years in the Cleveland Indians farm system. Instead, his future in sports took a sharp right turn which transformed him into one of—perhaps the—most successful college basketball referees ever to come out of the Greater Cleveland area. Donning, his first striped shirt at the age of 28 in 1974, he began a career as a Big 10 official in 1976 which has spanned 26 years and led to officiating assignments in 20 consecutive NCAA Men’s National Basketball Tournaments, including an appearance in the Final Four and numerous “Elite Eight” and “Sweet 16” match-ups. He has also called National Invitation Tournament games for two decades, including the 1993 championship at Madison Square Garden, and a tournament championship games for virtually every major collegiate conference. President of Big Ten Officials Association for eight terms and director of two nationally acclaimed camps, one for baseball, his “real job” is as coordinator of the Occupational Work Experience program at Buckeye High School in Medina County, where he has won honors as Educator of the Year and Employee of the Year. He currently makes his home in Westlake.