ASSOCIATED PRESS — The NBA Replay Center has a new leader.
Kane Fitzgerald, who spent 13 years working as an NBA referee, was announced as the new vice president of refereeing operations and director of the league’s replay center. He is replacing another former referee Jason Phillips, who stepped down after three years.
Fitzgerald, 41, officially started his new job on Sunday at the opening of the league’s annual preseason referee meetings.
“I’ve always been excited about new challenges, and it’s a rare opportunity that you can step off the court as an umpire and find an NBA position of this magnitude,” Fitzgerald said. “I’m excited about the challenge, something new, something different, to see if I can grow in the role and be as successful as I was on the ground.”
Fitzgerald rose through the ranks steadily throughout his court career. At 18, he was refereeing high school games in his hometown of New Jersey, introduced to the job by his father – who has been refereeing for 49 years and still works on the games.
From there, Fitzgerald made stints at the college level – the Big South, Atlantic Sun and Ohio Valley conferences – before two years in the WNBA and four more in the G League. He was chosen to work in four NBA Finals games, the last of which was last season in the Boston-Golden State series.
At that time, he had no idea that this opportunity would present itself.
“Kane’s extensive experience and distinguished background as an NBA official make him well-suited to oversee our efforts to maintain the highest standards for the NBA Replay Center,” said Byron Spruell, President of NBA League Operations. “We are fortunate that he brings his skills and knowledge to such an important leadership position.”
In his new role, Fitzgerald will oversee the day-to-day operations of the NBA Replay Center in Secaucus, New Jersey. He will also be involved with referee operations in ways such as creating training videos and interpreting the rules of the game for officials, teams, broadcasters and the media.
The move allows Fitzgerald to have a more normal schedule with his family. The work will still be demanding and travel will still be involved – her home is in Florida now, her job is in New Jersey – but not refereeing 50 or more games a year will make for a better work-life balance.
“I’ve probably had Christmas on Christmas Day, maybe five of the last 17 years,” Fitzgerald said. “And last year was the first year I was home for Thanksgiving. So there will be some very positive changes for the family with that schedule.”