INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -Hank Nichols, the NCAA's national coordinator of men's basketball officials, announced Monday he will retire at the end of this season.
The 70-year-old was hired in 1986 after working six national championship games, then a record.
``For more than three decades, I have been fortunate to do something I always dreamed of doing,'' Nichols said in a statement. ``It's been one heck of a ride.''
Tom O'Connor, athletic director at George Mason and incoming chairman of the Division I men's basketball committee, said a committee will be formed to find Nichols' successor.
Nichols worked 10 Final Fours, three NIT title games and the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. In 1983, he became the first official to work the NIT and NCAA championship games in the same year.
A native of Niagara Falls, N.Y., Nichols played basketball and baseball at Villanova, earned a doctorate degree from Duke and was a first lieutenant in the U.S. Marines. He is a member of the Philadelphia Athletic Hall of Fame, the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, the Villanova Hall of Fame and the Philadelphia Big Five Hall of Fame.
``Athletics administrators, coaches and his professional colleagues in every corner of the world are aware of the dramatic progress in officiating that has taken place under Hank's leadership,'' O'Connor said. ``The game is much better due to Hank's hard work and leadership.''

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