Multiple female referees will officiate this year's Fight Hunger Bowl between BYU, Washington

Published: Friday, Dec. 13 2013 11:55 p.m. MST

Female NFL referee Sarah Thomas works the game in the second half of an NFL preseason football game between the New Orleans Saints and the Oakland Raiders at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Friday, Aug. 16, 2013. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)

Matthew Hinton, AP

When BYU and Washington take the field in the Fight Hunger Bowl this year, it won't be just an ordinary bowl game. The game will have added significance, as multiple female referees will be part of the officiating crew.

This will be the first time in Division I college football history that more than one female referee will officiate in a college football game.

Sarah Thomas was the first female to work a major college game when she officiated in the Memphis-Jacksonville State game in September 2007. Thomas has become a pioneer when it comes to female officials as she is known for officiating major college football and bowl games. Thomas is currently a finalist to become a permanent official in the NFL, which would make her the first woman to hold such a position.

Yvonda Lewis, Tangela Mitchell, Sabrina Brunson and Krystle Apellaniz made history in October when the four female officials took part in a Division II game. The game marked the first time a mostly female officiating crew worked an NCAA football game. All four officials have risen through the NFL Officiating Development Program.

"This is a special opportunity for not only the group of ladies selected to officiate the game, but all officials in the SIAC," Harold Mitchell, supervisor of officials for the Southwestern Athletic Conference, told the Associated Press.

"To that point, it's also very important for everyone to understand that the selected crew are all outstanding officials and not just females."

Whether the referees are males or females, the bowl game between the Cougars and the Huskies should prove to be a good one. Both teams come into the game with 8-4 records with plenty to prove.

According to Sagarin's strength of schedule, the Huskies and the Cougars had the 13th and 35th toughest schedules this season. A win in the bowl game will go a long way for either program as the teams turn their attention to recruiting, offseason workouts and spring ball.

Justin Giles is a recent graduate with a bachelor's degree in communications with an emphasis in journalism and sports communication. Twitter: Justingiles22 Email: justingiles@deseretnews.com

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