In a press conference following the loss, Vom Steeg was critical of the officiating. Opening his general comments, Vom Steeg suggested that with only eight games being played at the time in the tournament, the NCAA should’ve had decent officiating for their game. “Ultimately it’s a struggle to me, it’s actually a sad day,” Vom Steeg said. “I thought it was bad for both teams.”
The game really turned, he said, with some of the calls, which resulted in free kicks for Ohio State, and even led to some goals while the Gauchos were up by two goals. He was most upset, he said at the time, about not getting a foul call when one of his players was roughed up near the corner flag. For those comments Vom Steeg, who earns $89,838 a year in gross pay, was fined $300.
Generally, the NCAA doesn’t take lightly to criticism of officials, and didn’t in this case. “The men’s soccer committee was disappointed by these comments and strongly believes the championship should not be tarnished by such acts,” read a statement released by the NCAA on Thursday.
Vom Steeg had a right to be upset in general, as his Gauchos were leading 3-1 eight minutes into the second half before giving up three straight goals to the Buckeyes, and the Gauchos lost in double overtime in the 2007 NCAA Tournament third round game. Vom Steeg, a two-time national coach of the year, led the Gauchos to its first national championship the season prior.
The coach didn’t immediately return phone calls Thursday. However, UCSB’s assistant athletics director Diane O’Brien accepted the statement, explaining in a statement, “Coach Vom Steeg and UC Santa Barbara take full responsibility for the unprofessional comments made during the championship. We realize the privilege of playing in an NCAA Championship and apologize for the impact the comments may have had.”