NFL hires first female referee - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

NFL hires first female referee

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It's official: The NFL has reportedly hired their first full-time female referee, and she's set to hit the field this fall.

Sarah Thomas served as the first female ref in the NCAA in 2007, then went on to officiate in a college pro bowl game.

With more than eight years of experience, she's proven she's ready for the big league.

Big Ten official Robert Smith knows her personally.

"For me, as an official, I'm not surprised," he says. "Sarah has worked, she's done everything she need to do to get this opportunity. So I'm happy for her."

He says she's battle-tested.

"I think, if you met Sarah, if you saw her officiate, you wouldn't have any doubts," Smith said. "She knows what she's doing, she's done all the right things. It was just a matter of time."

And for sports fans who don't know know Thomas, they say it's an exciting opportunity.

"I think it's cool," says fan Christopher Niepert. "She gets to tell the big boys what to do."

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