NEW YORK – Don Vaden, WNBA Vice President, Referee Operations and Director of Officiating Programs, is departing his position after nearly 30 years with the NBA and WNBA.
Vaden’s decision was announced today by Monty McCutchen, the new NBA Vice President, Head of Referee Development and Training. McCutchen oversees the development and training of all officials in the NBA officiating program, which services the NBA, WNBA and NBA G League.
Vaden, the only person to serve as Director of Officials in both the NBA and WNBA, will continue to be available to the leagues through his new consulting venture, Don Vaden Interactive Consulting. On the WNBA side, Shelley Russi will continue in her role with the referees’ performance and development.
“The timing is right for me to pivot and contribute to the game in a new capacity,” said Vaden. “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.”
During his management tenure, 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 involved in all aspects of referee operations including the NBA Replay Center, the recruitment, evaluation and training of officials and a focus on building strong relationships between referees and teams.
Previously, Vaden served as an NBA official for 15 seasons, working 854 regular-season games and 59 playoff games before retiring in 2003.
“Don has been a tremendous asset to our officiating program, both as a teacher and evaluator,” said McCutchen. “He has been a great advocate for our staff, and we will miss his leadership and guidance.”