Triplette Focused on Supporting Wake Forest’s Pro Humanitate Mission
Originally just a convenient way to earn some cash during the school year while also staying involved in sports, officiating became a major part of Jeff Triplette’s life, serving 22 years as an NFL referee and leading a company that helps assign officials to events all across the country.
A 1973 Wake Forest graduate who majored in economics, Triplette first became acclimated with the campus during a visit in the summer of 1968.
“I actually went to Wake Forest for the first time in the summer of 1968 with the American Legion Boys State,” he explained. “I just enjoyed it and ended up applying and getting accepted and so ended there in the fall of 1969.”
Although he didn’t compete in intercollegiate athletics, Triplette was involved in the intramural programs and came out to support all of the Demon Deacons programs while a student.
“I actually played on several intramural teams, but also started officiating the flag football league there on campus, and then started working high School, JV and Pop Warner football and basketball my sophomore year in college,” he said. “It was a great way to earn some extra money and still be involved in sports.
“I continued to officiate football and basketball for another five-or-six years, and finally gave up basketball to just concentrate on football because basketball got to be too much travel and too many nights of the week to keep a job and keep a career.”
As he began what became a 32-year career post-graduation with Duke Energy, Triplette remained active in officiating.
“I enjoy being around young people and enjoy seeing the young athletes that I’ve worked with in high school and even Pop Warner ultimately make it in college and even the pros,” he said. “The other part was just being part of the game that I couldn’t play anymore. I wanted to be part of the action and be down on the field, rather than in the stands and watching it on TV.”
He got his first shot in the NFL in 1996, working his way up to a referee and crew chief position just three years later.
“I will tell you the biggest thrill of mine was I grew up there in North Carolina, watching Washington and Philadelphia, which were the two closest teams to us,” Triplette said. “So I grew up loving those teams. My first regular season game in the NFL in September of 1996 was the Eagles at Washington opening weekend at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. I couldn’t believe I was there.”
Over the last 10 years, Triplette has served as President & Chief Executive Officer and then Executive Chair for Arbiter Sports, a company that helps manage assignments for officials all across the country at multiple levels of competitive sports.
“Arbiter Sports started about 35-36 years ago, bringing technology to assigning officials at the youth, high school and collegiate level,” Triplette explained. “It’s out in Salt Lake City. We put together how we would assign officials to games, figured out a way to pay them on behalf of the entities and track their eligibility.
“The NCAA purchased that company in 2008 and I got recruited there. From March of 2013 through 2019, I went out to Salt Lake and ran the company and still serve on its board as executive chair.”
A huge Wake Forest sports fan, Triplette began giving back to the Athletics shortly after graduation. He gave of his time on the Wake Forest University School of Business Board of Visitors and serves as Executive in Residence at the Wake Forest University School of Business Center of Leadership & Character.
“They approached me about being both a mentor and someone students could talk to about our leadership and character — build the whole person at Wake Forest,” Triplette said. “We’ve strengthened the bond between the athletic department and the university. We have a couple of courses we do, one on leadership where coaches send who they believe are the future leaders of their teams. Dr. Patrick Sweeny (Executive Director of Wake Forest School of Business’ Allegacy Center for Leadership and Character) does a course on leadership and I help Pat with that.
“We want the kids to know how to be a team player, but also someone who can help others be accountable. It’s about building a real organization full of high-performance individuals.”
He’s also served on the Deacon Club Board of Directors.
“I’ve served on the revenue subcommittee, kind of looking at how we increase our season ticket sales,” Triplette said. “We want to analytically look at who our fan base is. We’ve taken some of our analytics from the business school and used it at the Deacon Club, with students working as interns. I want to help the Deacon Club be more successful. I feel good about where we’re going in terms of premium seating and enjoying a premium experience.
“Folks want a full experience, and John Currie has done a heck of a job since he’s been the athletics director in terms of bringing out the best of what Wake Forest has to offer.”
Having moved to Oxford, Mississippi roughly 16 years ago, Triplette returns to Winston-Salem at least a couple times a year.
“I come back for board meetings for the business school or with the Deacon Club, and try to do it in conjunction with a football game,” he said. “I’d like to get back to see some field hockey and soccer games as well.
“It’s a heck of a lot different than when I was there from 1969-73. The facilities are great, with all the equipment and technology we have, but nothing replaces the coaches, support staff and educational experience. It’s about building the better person as a student-athletes.
“They’re going to look back at their Wake Forest experience and be really glad they went here. I know that’s what I did. I still look back some 50 years later being so glad that’s where I went.”
Triplette attributes the success he’s had in business and on the field as a referee to his experiences at Wake Forest.
“I didn’t knock it out of the park academically, but they forced me to work hard, which helped me be successful in business,” he said. “It’s not just the students who are challenged at Wake Forest, but especially the student-athletes, who are challenged to compete at the highest level on the field and academically.
“Anybody who is a Deacon Club member, it takes both your time and your talents. Not only are you giving your time, but also your money.”
As the Demon Deacons currently enjoy success all over campus in Athletics and Academics, Triplette understands the importance of continuing to give support to these programs.
“The only way to stay competitive is to give our coaches and student-athletes the financial backing that they need to participate at the highest level,” he said. “We’ve made the decision that we’re going to participate at the highest level, so now we have to support it. We’re going to be proud of what we do. I try to figure out every year how I can do a little bit more.”
By Les Johns
The original article from godeacs.com can be found here.