ACC Pioneer Jim Burch, the league’s first black offical, dies at age 91

Jim Burch, a pioneer in the sport of basketball, died at his home on Sunday at the age of 91. Burch was the first black official to referee an ACC Basketball game. In 1959 — after working as a high school basketball official — Burch advanced to the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA). A decade later, he joined the ACC’s official staff.

His career in basketball officiating, which included work as an instructor, lasted for 60 years. He worked 14 NCAA Tournaments, and spent time as a referee in the MEAC and Southern Conference. During his career, he also worked as a teacher and administrator for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district.

Burch was an alum of Fayetteville State University. He lived in Apex, North Carolina.