The women’s NCAA Tournament is off and running, but Saturday’s action was not without a bit of drama and controversy.

That controversy came from a game involving 3-seed NC State and 14-seed Chattanooga. At halftime, official Tommi Paris was removed with a substitute official inserted in her place.

According to a statement from March Madness officials, a “background conflict” for Paris was discovered that would have originally disqualified her from serving in that game. A number of reporters have indicated Paris received an MA from Chattanooga; information acquired via a Google search of Paris’ name.

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Here is the statement from officials:

“There was a switch of game officials at halftime of the Chattanooga-NC State first-round game because it was learned after the game had started that Umpire 2 Tommi Paris had a background conflict that, if known, would prevent her from working that assigned game. The decision was made to move Angelica Suffren, who had worked the first game of the session, into the Umpire 2 position because it provided the most on-court experience and allowed the game to maintain a full officiating crew, plus standby.”

Impact of the decision

It’s unclear if Paris’ officiating had any major bias or impact on the first half of the game. NC State carried a 26-17 lead into the break and advanced safely through the first round with a 64-45 win. Be sure to track all the odds related to the Wolfpack in March Madness via ESPN Bet.

However, the fact that Paris was even allowed to begin the game raises some red flags related to the NCAA Tournament and the selection of officials. What is the vetting process for the background of officials ahead of time? And why did Paris not immediately reveal her connection to Chattanooga after learning of the assignment?

On the surface, it appears March Madness avoided any major controversy with the quick decision to remove Paris, but it’s clear she should have never started the game on the court in the first place.