Young refs earn stripes

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:06 AM ET

The CFL has committed to five initiatives for the 2005 season in an attempt to improve its on-field officiating.

The most significant is the addition of 11 officials from the CIS to start the season. That will swell the CFL ranks to 46 officials to start the campaign and give the university-based officials a taste of the pros.

They will work a varying number of games to aid in their development.

"We have seven officials over 55," director of officiating George Black said of the planned infusion of young flag-tossers.

"They're all excellent officials, top of the heap.

"But we need adequate and prepared replacements who are going to be able to succeed those individuals and maintain the standards we have already established."

The second major initiative is the development of defined standards for five specific areas of infractions - holding calls, illegal blocks on kick returns, roughing the passer, illegal contact on receivers and pass interference - after consultation with CFL coaches in March.

"Written, defined descriptions have been produced," Black said.

"We are identifying those as our points of emphasis for 2005. "We have an agreed-upon standard and a shared responsibility between officials and coaches.

"Officials, I assure you, will be held to the standards we have put in print, and players and coaches will know what that standard is."

The CFL will also provide financial and instructional support for amateur officials, increase training and pay for CFL officials and experiment with using set officiating crews, as was the case in the 1970s and 1980s, for the first 36 games this season.

ON THE DOTTED LINE: With rookie camp opening tomorrow and main camp set to start Sunday, the Edmonton Eskimos yesterday signed a pair of imports, adding receiver Tony Tompkins and kicker Chris Brewer to the fold.

Tompkins, 22, a diminutive five-foot-eight and 165 pounds, was a first-team Southland Conference all-star with the East Texas Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks in 2004 after hauling in 56 passes for 821 yards.

Brewer, 23, just completed four years at Wingate University.

The native of Greenville, South Carolina, hit nine-of-15 fields goals and went 35-for-41 in extra points in 2004 after being a second-team NCAA Division 2 all-star in 2003.


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