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WNBA News: Director of Officials steps down

Don Vaden, the only person to serve as Director of Officials for both the NBA and WNBA, has stepped down to focus on his new consulting venture.

Referee Don Vaden look on Photo by: Victor Baldizon/NBAE/Getty Images

Don Vaden, WNBA Vice President of Referee Operations and Director of Officiating Programs, has stepped down from his position after nearly 30 years of service with the NBA and WNBA.

The decision was announced by Monty McCutchen, the NBA Vice President and Head of Referee Development and Training. McCutchen oversees development and training of all officials in the NBA officiating program, which includes the WNBA and G-League.

“Don has been a tremendous asset to our officiating program, both as a teacher and evaluator,” McCutchen said in a press release. “He has been a great advocate for our staff, and we will miss his leadership and guidance.”

Before serving with the WNBA, Vaden had served as an NBA official for 15 seasons before retiring in 2003. During his time in management, Vaden introduced the concept of four-person officiating crews (which have been used in the NBA G-League) and the development of a scouting group, which helps increase the available referee pool globally.

He was also involved in all aspects of referee operations, including the NBA Replay Center, recruiting, evaluating and training all officials and building relationships between the referees and teams.

Vaden, who is the only person to serve as Director of Officials for both leagues, will still be available to the leagues, but through his new consulting firm, Don Vaden Interactive Consulting. For the WNBA, Shelley Russi will continue her role overseeing referee performance and development.

“The timing is right for me to pivot and contribute to the game in a new capacity,” Vaden said. “It’s been an honor to serve the league for over 29 years and I am grateful for all that this opportunity has afforded my family.”

“My role as the Director of Officials in both the NBA and WNBA has been the highlight of my career off the court.”