NCAA Tournament referee who collapsed during Elite Eight game says medical incident saved his life


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NCAA referee Bert Smith, who collapsed during an Elite Eight game at this year’s men’s national basketball tournament, says that the medical emergency actually saved his life. The collapse happened during the game between No. 1 seed Gonzaga and No. 6 seed USC at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Smith’s body immediately drew the attention of a Gonzaga trainer, who saw the ref on the floor with his mouth agape and his eyes wide open. The scare was brief, as Smith regained consciousness shortly after the fall. Medical staff members were able to get him onto a stretcher and take care of him in a way that did not require an immediate hospital visit.

As it turns out, the cause of the fall was a blood clot in his lung, according to a report from The Indianapolis Star. The closest thing to a warning sign for Smith, as the Indy Star story outlines, was some heavy breathing the night before the game as he traveled up and down the stairs of the hotel he was staying at.

The only reason the clot was discovered was because he did eventually go to the hospital, but only for doctors to check on if he suffered a concussion — Gregg Doyel, who wrote the story about Smith, says he heard the official’s head hit the hardwood from 30 rows away.

Smith was then placed on blood thinners and discharged two days later as the clot disappeared. He said that the whole thing really put life in perspective and thanked everyone who helped him out over those couple of days.





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