Sue Blauch ’86 to be first head of WNBA referee performance and development

Sue Blauch, a WNBA referee for 20 seasons, has been named to the newly created role of Head of WNBA Referee Performance and Development, according to a WNBA news release.

Blauch, a Harrisonburg resident, earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education and psychology at Eastern Mennonite University (EMU), where she also played basketball under then-head coach Sandy Brownscombe. During her playing years, the team went to the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) finals all four years, winning the championship in 1985 and finishing as runner-up in 1986.

Blauch earned a Master of Education degree in counseling psychology from James Madison University. In addition to officiating, Blauch worked in higher education for 15 years in various roles, including director of housing and residence life and regional director of development at EMU.

Sue Blauch (left), then a WNBA referee, joins former teammate Deanna Moren Baker and former coach Sandy Brownscombe at Baker’s 2016 induction ceremony into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame. (Courtesy photo)

Blauch will join the league office immediately. She officiated her final game on July 24 at Indiana.

In her new role, Blauch will oversee the day-to-day management and on-court performance of the WNBA’s officiating staff. Blauch will report to NBA Vice President Monty McCutchen, who oversees referee development and training.

Blauch has worked the WNBA Finals since 2005 and officiated the 2006 and 2011 WNBA All-Star Games.

“Sue is uniquely positioned to transition into a leadership role in the WNBA officiating program,” said McCutchen. “That stems, first and foremost, from the fact that she has earned the resolute respect of players, coaches and, of course, her peers during an exemplary career. Sue’s experience, knowledge and insight into how the league can best support its talented team of referees will prove to be invaluable.”

Blauch, 53, has 28 years of college officiating experience in the Big Ten, SEC, ACC, American, Big East, Conference USA and Colonial conferences. She has worked the NCAA Tournament since 1996, including the 2009 and 2011 Final Fours. Blauch also officiated multiple conference championship games, including the ACC, Big Ten and Conference USA.

Her international career began in 1997 and culminated with the 2006 FIBA Basketball World Cup and the Bronze Medal game at the 2008 Summer Olympics. She was among 30 referees chosen from around the globe to officiate men’s and women’s basketball at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China. She was one of only two American refs and the only woman in the crew.

Though she describes officiating as a “passion” and a difficult position to step away from, Blauch commented in the release that the administrative role was “an incredible opportunity to make an impact in an entirely new and innovative way with a fresh perspective while continuing to work closely with the dedicated and talented officials in this league.”

Join the Discussion on “Sue Blauch ’86 to be first head of WNBA referee performance and development

  1. Sorry, but this needs to be said!–Interesting that EMU is happy to claim you NOW. Way to go, Sue! You will do an awesome job, just like you did in all the other opportunities that you accepted!

    1. One goal of EMU news is to share professional successes of alumni with the EMU community. Along with our coverage of Sue’s role in the Beijing Olympics, we are excited to share another one of Sue’s accomplishments, especially this great impact in the world of professional sports, and specifically women’s professional sports.

  2. Congrats, Sue. Ever since those days when we thought that EMU treated you shabbily, we’ve looked for you at NCAA games. Best wishes!

  3. Congratulations Sue! I remember watching the 2008 games and looking for you to cheer YOU on. Best wishes in this new well-earned role.

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