ACC Mourns the Passing of Doug Rhoads


GREENSBORO, NC – One of the most beloved figures in college football officiating, Doug Rhoads, passed away overnight after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer. Rhoads was 71.

“The entire Atlantic Coast Conference is deeply saddened by the passing of Doug Rhoads,” said ACC Commissioner John Swofford. “Doug loved the ACC and was a great friend to me and so many others. His positive and upbeat demeanor, and his passion for what he did was contagious and an inspiration to many. We will all keep Denise and their entire family in our thoughts and prayers."

Rhoads began officiating in the ACC in 1977 and spent 29 years on the field as a back judge working nearly 275 games, including 10 bowl games. He officiated some of the most prestigious games including a number of top ACC contests involving bowl and conference championship contenders.

Following a distinguished career on the field, Rhoads took over as the ACC Coordinator of Football Officiating in January 2007. In his role as Coordinator, he created the league's game day operations center, established a variety of high tech systems to respond to coaches and officials, developed a system of evaluations and ratings, oversaw the expansion of the football officiating staff and revolutionized the training process for all officials regarding rules, mechanics and philosophy. In addition to his work with the ACC, Rhoads served as the Coordinator of Football Officiating for the Big South Conference. He also participated in a variety of NCAA Rules & College Football Officiating (CFO, LLC) committees.

Upon his retirement from the ACC and Big South, Rhoads served as a football rules analyst for ESPN and NBC Sports, providing rules explanations and on-air analysis during broadcasts.

In addition to officiating, Rhoads had a notable career in law enforcement and security. After graduation from the University of Florida in 1962 with a degree in journalism, he served as an FBI Special Agent for more than 25 years before becoming the Deputy Chief of Police of Albemarle County in 1995. Following his service as Deputy Chief of Police, he was the Vice President of Operations at MDB International for five years.

Rhoads is survived by his wife Denise, children Kaye, Rob and Stephanie, and grandchildren Randall, Logan and Ryan. He was preceded in death by his son Randy. Details on a memorial service are incomplete at this time.