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A Top Referee Will Not Be Doing The Final 4 - Here's Why

A referee's outfit for an NCAA Tournament game.

LOUISVILLE, KY - MARCH 19: An NCAA patch is seen on a referee's shirt during the second round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament between the Kentucky Wildcats and the Hampton Pirates at the KFC YUM! Center on March 19, 2015 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

One of the top referees in college hoops will be on the sidelines for prime time.

According to ESPN's Jeff Goodman, John Higgins won't officiate the Final Four after his crew mishandled a call at the end of the Auburn-College of Charleston game in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Higgins has worked seven Final Fours, including the past three, but the NCAA pulled his crew from working the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight and he won't be doing the Final Four.

NCAA officiating coordinator J.D. Collins told Goodman Sunday evening that the move is an effort to place more responsibility on the refs for their performance.

"If an official errs on a rule, misses a game-deciding play or his miss-call ratio is too high, they are subject to not advancing in the NCAA tournament."

Higgins was alternate in the first-round contest which saw the wrong Auburn player go to the line to clinch the victory for the Tigers.

From ESPN:

Chuma Okeke, a 69 percent free throw shooter, should have been the one at the line in the closing seconds. Instead, Tigers guard Jared Harper, an 82 percent free throw shooter, was allowed to go to the line and made one of two shots to increase the lead to four points.

Here's the statement that Collins provided a statement to CBS shortly after the game via ESPN:

"The official called the foul, briefly turned his head towards the scorer's table and then turned his head back towards the basket where the foul occurred. When he did so, Auburn's Jared Harper (#1) was holding the ball because [Chuma] passed it to him just as he grabbed the rebound. The official pointed to Harper, identifying him as the shooter. Had any of the officials been aware of this, or had anyone alerted the officiating crew to the fact that the wrong player was at the foul line, the officials would have been able to review the play and determine [Chuma] should have been the shooter."

Saturday would have marked Higgins' fourth straight Final Four.

The Final Four starts next Saturday with No. 3 Michigan taking on No. Loyola-Chicago in the first game at 6:09 pm.

The late game pits No. 1 Kansas against No. 1 seed Villanova roughly 40 minutes after the conclusion of Michigan-Loyola.