The Mountain West Conference, in what it is calling a first-of-its-kind event, hosted a two-day summit aimed at improving dialogue between football coaches and officials.

According to a release, the 2019 Mountain West Head Football Coaches and Referee Officiating Summit, held last week in Colorado Springs, Colo., brought in head football coaches and seven officials — including Greg Burks, the league’s coordinator of officials, and Rogers Redding, the NCAA’s coordinator of officials — for two days of discussion aimed at improving the understanding of rules and dynamics between the two groups.

It’s no secret that officiating can be a tough, thankless job — and referees take heat from multiple directions each time they step on the field. It’s part of what’s contributing to a nationwide shortage of people willing to don the zebra shirt. According to the National Foundation of State High School Associations, national surveys show that only about two out of every 10 sports officials continue to officiate into their third season.

At the collegiate level, football officials face increased scrutiny and pressure with rabid fan bases questioning critical calls. Pac-12 officials this year are undergoing a review after controversies stemming from specific calls.

The Mountain West event encouraged coaches and officials to get on the same page prior to this football season.

“I think we’re doing something that is really unique,” Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl said. “There is no doubt in my mind, a lot of my colleagues around the country when they hear this, they’re going to say ‘that’s a heck of an idea.’ “

“I get a lot of opportunities to talk to coaches during the course of the year, while our referees don’t,” said Burks. “This summit provided a platform for this discussion. Having this meeting of the minds to share some of their concerns, I believe is valuable.”

Jason Scott is Online Managing Editor of Athletic Business.