Big 12 fines Texas Tech AD for officiating talk

The Big 12 issued a $25,000 fine and a public reprimand to Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt on Wednesday after he released a statement about an officiating error in the Red Raiders' loss at Baylor on Saturday.

Hocutt said in a statement Sunday that the Big 12 had acknowledged an officiating error on an illegal-snap ruling during the first overtime period.

Baylor's Jake Fruhmorgen snapped the ball into his backside, and the ball hit the ground, where Texas Tech defensive tackle Jaylon Hutchings recovered. But officials whistled the play dead and ruled an illegal snap on Fruhmorgen, which prevented the turnover.

Baylor scored a touchdown two plays later. Texas Tech scored to force a second overtime, where Baylor prevailed 33-30.

"It has been confirmed that the ruling on the field of an illegal snap was incorrect," Hocutt said in his statement. "The play is not reviewable by rule because it is a dead ball judgment call by the official. I am confident that the Big 12 Conference will deal with the matter internally as they complete the review of the game in its entirety."

The Big 12 said Hocutt violated league policy by speaking out publicly about officiating.

"It is vital that senior administration officials, especially the directors of athletics, adhere explicitly to these policies," league commissioner Bob Bowlsby said in a prepared statement. "It is very difficult to balance support for an institution's teams while fully complying with the imperative created by schools acting together to manage athletics competition. On this occasion, the required discipline was not exercised. Kirby Hocutt is one of the very best athletics administrators in the nation, and I am grateful for his assistance and support in resolving this matter."

In an email sent Monday to Bowlsby, obtained by 247Sports through a Freedom of Information Act request, Hocutt wrote that he did not violate the league's policy on commenting about officiating but "rather provided a factual clarification to bring closure to this issue."

"We simply stated the the facts in regards to the communication with the conference staff, the decision on the field, and that the play is not reviewable," Hocutt wrote to Bowlsby. "We give complete deference and respect to the conference in our statement."

Bowlsby had requested a response from Hocutt to a potential violation of league policy.

247Sports also obtained an email from Ed Stewart, the Big 12's executive associate commissioner for football, to Hocutt, which acknowledged the officiating error in the Texas Tech-Baylor game. Stewart wrote that Greg Burks, the Big 12's coordinator of football officiating, reviewed the play and discussed it with Rogers Redding, the national officiating coordinator.

"It is not a legal snap if the ball is moved forward or is lifted prior to the backward motion of a legal snap," Stewart wrote. "The video shows the ball being snapped continuously and bouncing of the centers thigh/leg and falling to the ground where it was recovered by the defense. ... This play is not reviewable by rule and is a judgement error and not a misapplication of a rule."

Stewart went on to write that the league typically doesn't address judgment issues in public, and that it would conduct and internal review of the officiating. He said Burks would be speaking with Texas Tech coach Matt Wells about the issue.

Former Texas Tech chancellor Kent Hance tweeted Wednesday that he's raising money to pay Hocutt's fine.

Hocutt has served as Texas Tech's athletic director since 2011. He chaired the College Football Playoff selection committee in 2016 and 2017.