What is the Role of the Commissioner’s Office?

A diehard supporter had a chance encounter with Commissioner Joe Lipa in the San Juan Arena after our game. Like most of our fans, he was obviously disgusted with the officiating, and asked Lipa what he thought of the officiating of referees #26 and #30. To his surprise, Lipa started screaming at him, asking why he was making accusations about the officiating. Lipa lunged towards our supporter, and only the timely intervention of cooler heads prevented what many of our supporters wanted to do with the game officials. Why Lipa flew off the handle without any provocation other than an innocent question asking for his opinion is a mystery. Or is it?

Why was Lipa so sensitive to questions regarding the officiating today? Did he see obvious mistakes that could have affected the result of the game? After all, we were playing the host school, which controls the way the league is run.

Which begs the question – what is the real role of the commissioner? This year has shown that he is nothing more than the supervisor of the referees. He has no power to make any decisions regarding technical matters, and can only make recommendations to the board. We all saw this after our first game against UST, where Jovet was penalized for punching but leading MVP candidate Ababou was not, even though his actions were clearly seen during a replay. Lipa recommended a suspension for punching, but was overruled by the board representative of the affected school, UST. Fr. de Sagun even had the gall to defend the actions of the board in disregarding the recommendation of Lipa. We heard rumors that Lipa was hopping mad, but for some strange reason chose to stay in his post.

Every year, the league host nominates a commissioner who ends up being just a figurehead, since ALL decisions are made by the board, including those which are technical in nature. Whoever carries the title “UAAP Commissioner” is actually a lameduck official who has very little power except to choose and suspend the referees in a game.

So why bother have a commissioner’s office in the first place?

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