College basketball referee Bert Smith was taken off the court in a stretcher during Tuesday's Elite Eight basketball game between No. 1 seed Gonzaga and No. 6 seed USC at Lucas Oils Stadium in Indianapolis. Smith collapsed in the middle of the first half. He laid stretched out on the court where he was given prompt medical attention before being taken to the locker room.
CBS Sports Rules Analyst Gene Steratore said the veteran referee was feeling "lightheaded" prior to his fall but says he was in stable condition once he was treated by medical professionals in the locker room. Smith seemed to be alert when he was rushed to the locker room with his arms folded as he sat straight and tall on the stretcher.
Scary moment in Gonzaga-USC as referee Burt Smith collapses and is unresponsive on the floor.
Prayers up 🙏🏽pic.twitter.com/bXwthLklEc— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) March 30, 2021
The TBS broadcast shows Smith standing just outside the 3-point arc near the baseline as USC brought the ball down the court in the first half. With 15:45 left on the clock, cameras showed him backing up and then falling directly on his back. He was unable to catch himself and ultimately hit his head on the hardwood floor. The game picked back up with alternate referee William Henderson in Smith's place.
Official is up and smiling. Terrifying.— Dana O'Neil😷 (@DanaONeilWriter) March 30, 2021
Atlantic writer Dana O'Neil shared an update on Smith's condition saying he was "up and smiling." He also called the experience "terrifying." College basketball fans sent along well wishes for the official on social media following the surprising incident. "The fact that your body can just collapse without a moment’s notice is scary as hell... I hope Bert Smith is okay," someone tweeted. "Prayers up for referee Bert Smith! That was terrifying to see him collapse like that," another shared under the March Madness and Elite Eight hash tags.