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Violet Palmer to be honored with the 2023 Gold Whistle Award

Jul 31, 2023

Violet Palmer, the Pac-12’s coordinator of women’s basketball officials for the past 13 seasons, will be honored with the 2023 Gold Whistle Award, presented by the National Association of Sports Officials (NASO).


Gold Whistle awardees are those that have made significant contributions to the betterment of officiating, exhibit a high degree of integrity and ethics and other qualities that are held in high regard by the industry. Candidates must have a consistent record of presenting officiating in a positive light as well as exhibiting a “service above self” attitude. Public service to officiating, having a motivating effect on others and strong community involvement are considered.


The award, the highest honor in officiating, will be presented in Riverside, Calif., on Tuesday, Aug. 1, during the Celebrate Officiating Gala, sponsored by Fox 40 International, which caps the 2023 Sports Officiating Summit.


“I am grateful to the NASO for presenting me with the 2023 Gold Whistle Award,” Palmer said. “My love of basketball began at a young age, first as a player and then as an official, and now I take great pride in mentoring and developing our current generation of on-court officials. I am honored to be recognized for the work that has been an important part of my life for the past three decades.”


Palmer, who also coordinates officials for the West Coast, Western Athletic, Big Sky and Big West conferences, has been with the Pac-12 since 2010. In 1997, she became the first woman to referee an NBA game and went on to crew more than 900 regular-season NBA games. Palmer was the first woman to officiate an NBA playoff game in 2006 to begin a total of nine career NBA postseason assignments, and in 2014 became the first woman to officiate the league’s all-star game.


Also working at the highest levels of women’s basketball, Palmer officiated the inaugural season of the WNBA in 1997 in addition to five NCAA Women’s Final Fours and two championship games. She was named Naismith Award Women’s Official of the Year in 1999.


“Violet has been an important part of the Pac-12 women’s basketball family for a long time and we are thrilled that she is being recognized with this year’s Gold Whistle Award,” said Pac-12 Deputy Commissioner Teresa Gould. “She is the best at what she does and has done great work to elevate the Conference’s officiating program over the past 13 years. This award is a testament to the positive impact she has had on the world of officiating during her career.”


While still officiating in the NBA, Palmer began transitioning into administrative roles within the profession, serving as coordinator of officiating for women’s basketball conferences in the West, including the Pac-12. After hanging up the whistle in 2016, she also served as a manager of the NBA’s referee operations department.


This is the second consecutive season that a Pac-12 officiating coordinator has been recognized with the Gold Whistle Award. Joan Powell, the league’s coordinator of women’s volleyball officials, was honored in 2022.