There have been 16 previous sports officials, including 1957 charter member of Titus Lobach, inducted into the Summit County Sports Hall of Fame but Joe DeRosa is the first to have officiated in the National Basketball Association (NBA). DeRosa is also on the very select list of basketball officials who have worked in the NBA playoffs, in the NCAA Final Four and the Olympics.
A native of Youngstown, DeRosa got into basketball officiating of grade school games in 1977 while a sophomore business major at John Carroll College, where he graduated in 1979 and was a fouryear letterman in track. Soon he was officiating high school basketball in Ohio and Kentucky and did so until 1988, however, in 1984 he began officiating junior college games in Kentucky, Illinois and Tennessee. Before long he was working games in the Great Lakes Valley Conference and in November, 1986 officiated his first NCAA Division I game at the University of South Carolina. DeRosa's reputation as an outstanding referee accelerated while working games in the Ohio Valley, Sun Belt, Metro and Southeastern Conferences and he was hired to work NBA games for the 1989-90 seasons, 12 years removed from working grade-school games. "I was humbled from Day 1, said DeRosa of his NBA experience. Yet, he persevered through 21 seasons, withstanding the severest of scrutiny and hundreds of evaluations as the NBA does all it can to ensure its officials miss as few calls as possible. By the time he retired for the NBA at the end of the 2009-10 season he had become one of the league's most respected officials who had worked the first NBA Rookie game in 1994, his first NBA Playoff game in 1995 and in 11 NBA Finals. And like many players, DeRosa pushed through two knee surgeries and a torn ligament in his ankle to stay involved in the game he loved. DeRosa retired from NBA ball but, not from officiating basketball. He now works games in the Big 12, Conference USA Atlantic 10, Missouri Valley, Horizon League and the Ohio Valley. He refereed four games in the 2011 NCAA I Basketball Tournament and this past season the Big 12 and Horizon Championship games as well as a career highlight, the Final Four in New Orleans. Another career highlight was as the only male official selected from the United States, one of the games Joe worked was for the Bronze Medal at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.