A female referee will officiate Southeast Missouri State University’s non-conference football game with the University of Kansas in September. Catherine "Cat" Conti will be the first woman to referee a game with a Big 12 Conference team.
The Big 12’s commissioner calls Conti “a darn good official” and she’ll have a chance to show her skills on September 6 in Lawrence, Kansas.
Southeast athletic director Mark Alnutt said Conti earned the opportunity to referee the game.
“We’re honored to be the team that is facing a Big 12 institution to have her work the game,” Alnutt said.
Conti will be a full-time ref in the Big 12, Mountain West and Southland conferences this year, according to the Washington Post. Conti told ESPN that she started as a high school official and worked her way up the ranks for the past 15 years.
Alnutt expects some additional media attention for the game.
“It will be one of those things, especially since it’s a BCS conference, that will get some deserved publicity,” Alnutt said. “But at the end of the day it’s going to be based on a person that has the ability to do that and set aside gender.”
Conti will not be the first woman to officiate a game with an Ohio Valley Conference team. That honor goes to Sarah Thomas. She was the first woman to referee a major college football game in 2007 in a contest between Memphis and the OVC’s Jacksonville State.