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NFL has hired first woman referee, Sarah Thomas: report



For the first time in its history, the NFL will have a woman official overseeing games in 2015.

Sarah Thomas, a Big Ten official who has worked preseason NFL games, has been hired by the league, the Baltimore Sun reported on Friday. Thomas became the first female to work an NCAA game in 2007.

The NFL wouldn’t confirm Thomas’ hiring, saying only “The 2015 roster of officials has not yet been finalized. When it is, the new officials for 2015 and the entire roster will be announced.”

Thomas has been on the NFL’s radar since 2013, and the Sun’s report indicated that she’s been a finalist for an NFL job in the past.

In 2013, the NFL’s VP of officiating, Dean Blandino, said that Thomas had been “in our pipeline for a while.”

"I think it's just the natural next progression," he told ESPN. "We're looking for untapped talent."

Violet Palmer became the first woman to referee an NBA game in 2006. She’s worked for the league, in addition to the WNBA, ever since and there have been a total of three female refs in the NBA. Women have umpired spring training games but never regular season MLB games and the NHL has never had a female official work a game.

"The thing is, I've never set out to be the first and that hasn't changed," Thomas said in a 2013 ESPN profile. "I do this because I love it."



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