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Xavier Magazine | November 18, 2017

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Profile: Tom Clark

Profile: Tom Clark
Greg Schaber

TOM CLARK
Bachelor of Science, 1970
School psychologist, Clermont County Educational Service Center
Cincinnati

Time Out | Clark spent 34 years officiating sporting events. Active in basketball and baseball at Cincinnati’s St. Xavier High School, he originally wanted to be a coach in Clermont County. There were no openings, so his boss helped him get started officiating pee wee sports. From there, he moved to high school and, finally, to the college ranks.

Hey, Ref | In the 1980s, Clark officiated Big Ten football games and basketball games in several conferences, including the Mid-America Conference and the Big Ten. He worked 14 NCAA Tournaments, 15 conference championship games and several bowl games.

Fast Lane | For 22 years, he was on the road 37 weekends a year, averaging 12 football and 40 basketball games. The pace finally got to be too much. He left college football in 2003 and college basketball this year.

Xavier Roots | Clark recalls that former Xavier basketball coach Bob Staak was instrumental in helping him break into college basketball. Likewise, former Xavier football standout Tom Balaban, record-setting football coach at St. Xavier High School, paved the way for Clark’s entry into college football.

Big Call No. 1 | Clark was on the floor—and was responsible for making the shot call—when Duke University’s Christian Laettner hit the winning basket to defeat the University of Kentucky 104-103 in the Final Four of the 1992 NCAA Tournament. The game has been called the greatest in college basketball history.

Duke Revisited | For six weeks after the Duke-Kentucky game, Clark told other officials, friends and guests at speaking engagements that .2 seconds were on the clock when Laettner hit the shot. He sensed skepticism from most of them. Duke coach Mike Krszyzewski sent Clark a photo of Laettner’s wining shot. The backboard clock read .2.

Big Call No. 2 | Officiating a football game between Ohio State and Notre Dame at Notre Dame Stadium, Clark flagged the Irish for holding, negating an 80-yard punt return for a touchdown.  Then-Irish coach Lou Holtz calmly told Clark that the call better be correct or “I’ll go national on you.” The call was determined to be correct.

Life Partners | Clark found more than his degree at Xavier. As a senior in 1969, he began dating Kathy Achten, a first-year secretary in the Department of Psychology. The two were married six years later. Professionally, Clark has been a school psychologist in Clermont County for 35 years. Virtually all of that time has been spent in the county’s Goshen district. “All facets of my life lead back to Xavier.”

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