Referee Bert Smith collapses on court, taken off on stretcher during first half of Gonzaga-USC men’s Elite Eight game
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Medical personnel attend to referee Bert Smith after he collapsed on the court during the first half of the Elite Eight game between Gonzaga and Southern California. (Photo: Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY Sports)

Longtime college basketball referee Bert Smith collapsed to the floor less than four minutes into Tuesday’s Elite Eight game between Gonzaga and Southern Cal in Indianapolis and was removed from the arena via stretcher. 

It wasn’t immediately clear what caused the issue for Smith but he was sitting up on the stretcher and seemed to be awake, aware and conversing with medical personnel. 

The reason it was such a scary scene is because there was no collision that caused Smith to drop to the floor. As USC was bringing the ball up to start an offensive possession, Smith was standing on the baseline and seemed to just lose his balance for no apparent reason. He fell backwards, hitting his head on the floor and laid on his back motionless with eyes open. Immediately, the emergency medical team in the arena surrounded him. 

He was replaced by an alternate, William Henderson, who had been at the scorer’s table.

CBS/Turner analyst and former college basketball referee Gene Steratore said on the broadcast that Smith was "feeling lightheaded on the court" and was being treated in the locker room. He was reported to be in stable condition. 

Contributing: The Associated Press

Follow USA TODAY Sports reporter Dan Wolken on Twitter @DanWolken

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