Official collapses during NCAA men’s tournament game

Bert Smith collapsed during the first half of the Elite Eight basketball game between the USC Trojans and the Gonzaga Bulldogs.

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In a terrifying moment during the first half of the University of Southern California vs. Gonzaga men’s basketball game, an official collapsed, much to the shock of players and fans. 

Referee Bert Smith was taken off the court on a gurney, but he appeared to be conscious and talking as he was led away. 

Referee Bert Smith is tended to by training staff and medical personnel after collapsing during the first half of the Elite Eight round game between the USC Trojans and the Gonzaga Bulldogs during the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament in Indianapolis. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

After the alarming incident, the NCAA issued a statement, saying: “Bert is alert and stable and will not be transported to a hospital. He has been in contact with his family.” 

Video of the incident shows Smith standing near the Gonzaga bench and falling backward. Someone from the bench rushes to his aide while another official stops gameplay. 

Ride the Pine Sports shared the incident on Twitter. “The scene before referee Bert Smith collapsed is so scary as he stumbles around the possession before,” they wrote. “Hope he will be okay!” 

After the game, Gonzaga head coach Mark Few said of Smith, “He’s a great official, a great person. I was just shocked and scared for him. But I was able to stick my head in there a little bit and see that he was talking and coherent. I tried to say a quick prayer for him and just wished him the best.”

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The number-one seed university defeated USC 86-66 and will advance to the Final Four. 

“Sounding like NCAA official, Bert Smith, is going to be fine. Great news,” ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla tweeted Tuesday night. “Easy to bang on these guys all year even if you’ve never put a whistle on or read a rule book. But these are great people who have a passion for the game like we all do.” 

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This year’s March Madness tournament marks a return after missing a year due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Final Four matchups have been set with Gonzaga, UCLA, Baylor and Houston in the running for the first national championship in two years. 

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