Randy Campbell officiated his 2,000th NCAA Division I women’s basketball game Nov. 17 at the University of Denver, joining an exclusive club that has less than 10 members.
Campbell had his own rooting section that night in Magness Arena. His lovely wife, Janet, was in the stands along with their children, their spouses, and other special guests. Everyone was decked out in a referee shirt. After the game – a 96-66 Pioneers victory over Cal Poly San Luis Obispo — the whole gang celebrated by going to the nearby Crimson and Gold Tavern.
A longtime resident of the High Meadow at Fox Run neighborhood, Campbell’s officiating footprint extends throughout the Pikes Peak region and the United States. He is arguably the most diverse official in the nation.
Campbell also works Division I college football games as a center judge in the Pac 12 Conference and is a replay official in the booth at Denver Broncos home games. Last season, he also worked the AFC Championship game in Kansas City between the Chiefs and New England Patriots.
He is one of only three officials in the nation who works D-I college football and D-I women’s basketball.
Campbell’s busy schedule also has him as the assigner of officials in the Division II Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, which features the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs among its 16 member basketball teams.
“I keep pretty busy,” Campbell told me recently as we caught up over a meal. “I still love what I do.”
I’ve known Campbell for about a decade. Both being originally from Southern California, we hit it off from the beginning. We talk baseball, football and basketball without skipping a beat or stopping to breathe.
Campbell is a story machine. He sees things on the court and turf that cameras often miss. His duty as an official, he stresses, is to make sure that neither team gains an unfair advantage.
Campbell’s resume is filled with one impressive accolade after another. As a college basketball official, he has worked games in 42 states. He referees in six conferences (Big West, Mountain West, Western Athletic, Summit, Patriot and Northeast).
He’s been officiating women’s D-I basketball for 31 seasons, an average of about 68 games per season.
“I sometimes work four to five games a week,” Campbell told me. “It gets pretty hectic.”
Needless to say, Campbell has racked up the frequent flyer miles.
As a football official, he is one of only four people in stripes to referee a national championship game and a playoff game. He worked the final BCS National Championship game on Jan. 7, 2013, a victory by Alabama over Notre Dame.
Campbell has worked games involving 102 D-I college football teams. “I’ve only missed 20 teams,” he said.
He officiated at last weekend’s Oregon State at Washington State game in Pullman. This weekend he will be work the Colorado at Utah game in Salt Lake City.
Campbell is hoping to work a bowl game this season, but he won’t find out until early December.
“Bowl games are always a lot of fun,” he said.
Campbell, of course, did not start out at the top of the referee profession. Like most, he began his career officiating high school games, eventually working his way up through the ranks of junior college, D-III and D-II.
“I started officiating in New Mexico in 1980,” Campbell said. “That seems like a long time ago now.”
The officiating world is a close fraternity. The day Campbell and I got together, local high school official Jon Peterson stopped by to pick up the ref shirts he let Campbell and his family borrow for his 2,000th game. I see Peterson all over the Pikes Peak region at football, baseball and basketball games.
Campbell prefers to keep a low profile. If an official is doing his job well — and Campbell does his very well — he or she is supposed to be almost invisible.
Thanks, Randy, for all you do to help make the games better for everyone to watch.
Danny Summers has been covering sports at all levels in the Pikes Peak region since 2001. Send your story ideas and feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.