Roger Gautrau is a referee, but could very well double as a historian. Gautrau’s estimable career with the International Association of Approved Basketball Officials has spanned 52 seasons, from 1972 to the present, and he has officiated a Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference state tournament game for 45 consecutive seasons, including 29 state championship games.
“Donald ‘Red’ Lomme and Jack Lockery combined to recruit me for officiating,” said Gautrau, who played basketball at Stamford Catholic, graduating in 1961, and baseball at St. Bonaventure University. “They were both legendary basketball officials who were devoted to high school basketball. Their pitch was, ‘you can’t play forever’ and officiating would keep me in the game.”
Gautrau, nicknamed “Big Rog,” served as IAABO Board 9 vice president from 1995-97 and as president from 1997-99, overseeing the board’s merger with Fairfield County’s Connecticut Board of Certified Basketball Officials in 1999.
He has officiated boys’ and girls’ state championship games in the same season five times and in 2009 he received the CIAC Girls’ Basketball Merit Award on the same weekend he reffed the Class LL boys’ basketball championship in the first season the title games were held at Mohegan Sun Arena. Gautrau has officiated numerous league championship games and was named the first recipient of the IAABO Board 9 Peter Carroll Service Award.
Gautrau chose former Masuk High School girls’ basketball coach Dave Strong, the state’s all-time wins leader and a fellow hall of famer, to present him for induction into the Connecticut Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame — “Dave was a coach that concentrated on his team and trusted that the game would be officiated fairly,” Gautrau said. “Part of his reputation was that if he disputed a call, you probably got it wrong.”
A resident of Southbury, Gautrau is a self-described passionate golfer and loyal UConn women’s basketball fan. Sons Christopher, Bret and Jeffrey all played basketball at Immaculate High School and his grandson Ryan is currently maintaining the family tradition of playing at New Fairfield.
Gautrau was an all-state pick in basketball and baseball during his senior year at Stamford Catholic, leading the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference in scoring at 24.0 points per game and in batting at .406. He earned his degree in English from St. Bonaventure.
“As a three-sport athlete growing up, I just became a dedicated lover of the game because of the challenges it presented with the special incentive of beating an opponent head-to-head,” Gautrau said of basketball. “I loved the challenge it presented in finding ways to excel in multiple situations. Strategy and execution became an obsession to me. Playing at a young age, then becoming a fan of the NBA and college just captured my interest.”