By Don Chaddock, Inside CDCR editor
Office of Public and Employee Communications
(Editor’s note: The national Women Working in Corrections and Juvenile Justice annual conference is hosted by CDCR this year. Learn more at https://wwicjj.com/)
When she’s not keeping an eye on parolees, Parole Agent Crystal Hogan is refereeing on the court. Despite a busy work schedule, she has devoted her spare time to becoming the only woman in the U.S. to referee division one men’s college basketball. Inside CDCR caught up with her to get her thoughts on her accomplishment.
I am doing this because of my passion for men’s basketball. In addition, I am hoping that this will open doors for other strong women who wish to officiate men’s college basketball at the Division-One level, if qualified. I am hoping I can encourage young men and women to follow their dreams and to understand that nothing is impossible. Lastly, I want my daughter to know and understand there are no limits to what she can do in this world as evidenced by what her mother has accomplished.
What motivates you to be involved in sports?
Sports has been a way for me to stay healthy. In addition, it has allowed me to continue to engage in a sport that I love that has been so beneficial to me and my daughter over the years.
How rare is it for a woman to be a referee for this level of college basketball?
It is extremely rare. As of right now, I will be the only female officiating Men’s NCAA College Division One basketball in the country this year. I was hired to officiate in the Western Officiating Consortium which consists of the following conferences: PAC 12, Mountain West, West Coast Conference, Big West, Big Sky, WAC.
I am extremely grateful and humbled to lead the way in men’s college basketball. Violet Palmer, whom is a pioneer for women as the first female to officiate in the NBA, has been very instrumental in my success. I am extremely grateful to her as she was the first one to offer me an opportunity to officiate division one women’s basketball in the West Coast Conference. I have tried to model my style of officiating off of her due to her strength and personality on the court as it has proven to be extremely successful for her.
Have you played sports yourself and if so, what-when-and how long?
I have been involved in sports since I was a little girl playing football in the streets of Compton with my childhood friends until the street lights came on.
I have always been very competitive but did not start playing organized sports until my freshman year in high school. I played volleyball, basketball and softball my freshman year and excelled in all three. After my freshman year, I began to dedicate myself to the game of basketball because of the passion and dedication that my high school coach had with me and my team. Officiating has become a way of life for me being that I no longer play basketball.
What do your coworkers think of your new gig?
My coworkers are not aware of this accomplishment at this time. I have only spoken to my immediate supervisors and District Administrators about it and they are extremely proud of me and very supportive in regards to CDCR.
In reference to my fellow officials, they are excited for me transitioning over to the men’s side and extremely encouraging.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I played basketball at Dominguez High School in Compton and developed a passion for the game of basketball. I then attended and played basketball at Compton College for a year before being offered a full scholarship to play at Long Beach State University. After graduating from Long Beach State, I became pregnant and was blessed with a beautiful little girl named Taylor. She is now a freshman at Hampton University and is a cheerleader.
While being a new mother, I was approached by a friend who introduced me to officiating. I started officiating high school through the Long Beach Unit and developed a passion for refereeing. In retrospect, as a basketball player, I always played pick-up basketball with guys. So, naturally I developed a passion for officiating boys basketball. I started reffing Men’s basketball at the Drew League – best men’s Pro Am basketball in the nation.
From there, after years of practice, ups and downs, I was hired to referee division one women’s basketball in the West Coast Conference by Violet Palmer, the first woman to referee in the NBA.
I was later hired to referee in the Big West Conference as well on the women’s side. I was then hired to referee in the NBA G League, formerly called the NBA Developmental League, where I acquired the skills needed to referee high intensity men’s basketball.
I officiated in the NBA D League for three years. I continued to referee men’s basketball at the Drew League and had an opportunity to referee the likes of Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, James Harden, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Lebron James, Jamaal Crawford, Deandre Jordan, and a host of other NBA and top college men’s basketball players.
The Drew League is where I developed the majority of my skills and I credit Dino Smiley and family with my success as a men’s basketball official.
I have always wondered why there were no women officiating on the men’s side at the NCAA division one level. My passion and drive for officiating has paid off and made me the only woman who will be reffing NCAA basketball this year for the 2018-19 season on the men’s side.