USQ Update


Referee Tier and Certification System Policy Update

USQ Referee Team announces policy updates effective January 2018.

The previous Referee Development Plan announced in March 2015 ran through the 2016-17 season. The Referee Team has been reevaluating USQ’s overall referee program with the primary goals of addressing the issues with certification and encouraging the development of referees, both new and existing. By combining various policy proposals and feedback from USQ volunteers and referees, the following changes to the referee certification program have been established and will become effective January 1, 2018 (unless stated otherwise).


The tier certification program has been expanded to include an additional tier and the requirements for certification have been altered so referees tier 1-4 may begin each new season as a fully certified head referee before passing a field test. However, all tiers of referees must pass the assistant referee, snitch referee, and head referee test, in that order, and become a USQ Referee Member at least 24 hours before the first event they intend on refereeing. Beginning in June 2018, Tier 1 and 2 referees can no longer bypass the assistant and snitch referee tests.

At the end of each season, every head referee will receive a mandatory tier demotion of one tier. Depending on performance and whether they have met certain requirements, additional tiers may be docked. In order for a referee to move up a tier, including reclaiming a tier previously held, the referee must pass a field test at a standard of scrutiny expected of a referee of that tier. The proctor for this test must be the same or higher tier as the referee candidate. Reviews of tiers by the Referee Team in May and December cannot result in tier advancement. Beginning May 1, 2018, head referee tiers will also be available publicly.

Tier advancement and demotion

All head referees are assigned a tier 1-4 immediately upon certification, beginning with tier 4. All four tiers are eligible to officiate as head referees during USQ official matches. Tiers are reassessed at least twice a year by the USQ Referee Team, in May and in December. Referee evaluations are crucial in assigning and changing tiers. Tiers are subject to change throughout the season outside of the formal assessments pending performance and evaluations.


Certification Deadline: Certification requirements must be completed at least 24 hours before a scheduled event at which a referee intends to officiate.


Assistant Referees:

  • Must pass the Assistant Referee Written Test.
  • Certified assistant referees not required for official matches with the exception of regional championships and US Quidditch Cup.

Snitch Referees:

  • Prerequisite: Assistant referee certification
  • Must pass the Snitch Referee Written Test
  • Certified snitch referees not required for official matches with the exception of regional championships and US Quidditch Cup.

Lead Assistant Referees:

New Head Referees (No Tier):

  • Prerequisite: Lead assistant referee certification
  • Must pass a field test before receiving a tier and becoming eligible to referee official games.
  • Certified head referees required for all official matches.

Returning Head Referees (Tier 1-4):

  • Returning head referees whose tiers have dropped below tier 4 are considered new referees.
  • Prerequisite: Lead assistant referee certification
  • Certified head referees required for all official matches.

Mandatory Tier Demotion: On May 1 of each year, all head referees receive an automatic demotion of 1 tier. If a referee failed to complete their required number of games refereed, required number of reviews, or has received significantly poor reviews, they may be demoted additional tiers. Referees will be informed of their tier and any feedback from reviews at least twice per year by email. Tiers are also available publically in the list of certified referees beginning May, 2018. For more information on referee season requirements, please see the Referee Policies page.

Tier Advancement: In order to move up a tier or tiers (including returning to the tier held before the mandatory tier demotion) a referee must take a field test with a proctor of the same tier or higher. Based on the results of this field test and past performance, their tier will be reevaluated. A referee’s official tier will be included in their field test results.



In order to become a field test proctor, new proctors must shadow an existing proctor to ensure their effectiveness and awareness of policies and procedures. This will allow for more effective proctoring and ensure that the feedback provided in these tests is useful and productive. Existing proctors are not required to complete this process, but they are encouraged to do so if they would like to receive additional feedback on their proctoring.

At the beginning of each season, returning proctors must email to express interest before meeting with a member of the Referee Team for an interview and instruction on the process. Field test proctors may be any level of referee tier.

New proctors must email to express interest before meeting with a member of the Referee Team for an interview. If accepted, they will be paired with an existing proctor to receive additional instruction before conducting their first event of field tests under the supervision of the existing proctor. The existing proctor will provide feedback and ensure the quality of the proctor before the proctor may conduct field tests without supervision.


The type of games on which head referee candidates are permitted to field test has been adjusted to ensure that all games being used for field testing are high quality and follow a standard of rules a head referee would be expected to uphold in an official game.

Referees who are tier 1-4 certified and are field testing for the purpose of tier evaluation may referee additional games at the event in which they field tested. Field tests under these circumstances are permitted at USQ Regional Championships and US Quidditch Cup, but may not be available due to scheduling. For referees taking a field test at regional championships or US Quidditch Cup, the proctor will receive $15 and the referee will receive $5.

Referees who do not have a tier may only referee the game on which they are field testing and may not field test at regional championships or US Quidditch Cup.

Only events with USQ official games, USQ sanctioned events, or Major League Quidditch official events may be used for field tests. The games used for field testing at these events may be either official or unofficial. Field tests are permitted at USQ Regional Championships or US Quidditch Cup for referees who are currently certified, but referees should be aware that field testing may not be available due to scheduling. Referees are encouraged to field test at other events when possible.

If the candidate is not a tier 1-4 referee, no other official games may be head refereed by the field test candidate (except in cases of inconclusive games). If the candidate is currently certified as a tier 1-4 referee and is testing to move up a tier, they may referee other official games at the event.


The inconclusive games policy was updated in August 2017 to highlight limited situations when a referee may field test multiple times in a day. These situations are based solely on the quality of the games, not on the referee’s ability or performance.

A referee may only field test one time per tournament unless the game they refereed is deemed by the field test proctor to be “inconclusive.”

A game may be deemed inconclusive if it did not have enough unique scenarios to properly test the referee’s ability at the discretion of the field test proctor. A game’s status as inconclusive is based on the game itself, not the referee. A game cannot be deemed inconclusive because the referee performed poorly.

In a situation with one or more inconclusive games for a single referee, the field test proctor is only paid for the first game. The referee is paid for all subsequent games. Any number of games may be ruled inconclusive. Tournament Directors are encouraged to schedule initial field tests for earlier in the day. However, Tournament Directors are not required to fulfill requests for additional field test slots.

If an event has multiple proctors available, subsequent tests may be run by a different proctor, assuming both proctors agree to this and the second proctor is aware that they will not be paid for the test(s).


The referee review requirements policy was created in August 2017 and announced to head referees as well as published on the USQ website’s Referee Policies page. The goal of these requirements are to ensure that referees are receiving quality feedback for improvement. Information provided in reviews will be given to referees in their May and December tier review emails. To account for the additional tier of referees, the referee review policy has been altered to require 2 reviews from tier 3 referees and 1 review from tier 4 referees. The due date for these reviews is two weeks before US Quidditch Cup so the reviews can be evaluated before officials scheduling is complete for US Quidditch Cup.

Additionally, head referees are required to referee a certain number of games in a season before two weeks after US Quidditch Cup. Failure to meet the referee season requirements for the tier held at the time of the May review may result in an additional tier demotion.


Referee Reviews: Certified head referees are required to submit a certain number of referee reviews for games reffed by other head referees or lead assistant referees. The reviewer must not have been a player, coach, team staffer, or field test proctor in the reviewed game, but they may be a referee. The game must be viewed in person, not solely on video. The requirements are determined based on the referee’s tier at the time of the deadline. Reviews are due two weeks before US Quidditch Cup.

Games Refereed: Certified head referees are required to head referee a certain number of USQ official games in a season. The requirements are determined based on the referee’s tier at the time of the deadline. The games must be refereed and submitted to USQ standings two weeks after US Quidditch Cup.

Failure to complete the season requirements may result in a tier demotion (in addition to the mandatory tier demotion) at the time of the May tier review.

USQ Referee Team hopes that these changes will encourage referee improvement and retention as well as continue to build a strong refereeing community. To assist in this goal, the USQ Certified Head Referees Facebook group has been renamed and opened up to include dedicated Lead Assistant Referees who would like to join. The group can be found here. Only certified Head Referees and Lead Assistant Referees will be approved to join.

If there are any questions regarding these policies, please email