Former UWO football player and official Bernie Barribeau dies


Courtesy of UWO athletics — Former UWO football player Bernie Barribeau died June 14 at the age of 77. He played football for UWO from 1964-67 and was a hall of fame basketball referee.

Jacob Link, Co-Sports Editor

Bernie Barribeau, who played football for UW Oshkosh and was a hall of fame basketball referee, died June 14 at the age of 77.

Barribeau was a defensive back for Wisconsin State University-Oshkosh (now UW Oshkosh) from 1964-67, earning All-Wisconsin State University Conference (WSUC) Honorable Mention in 1966 while playing under legendary Titans football coach Russ Young.

As a freshman at UWO, Barribeau began his officiating career in 1964 when he refereed a varsity high school boys basketball game in Beaver Dam. He went on to officiate for 60 years, refereeing high school basketball, baseball, softball, football and volleyball contests, as well as many Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference events. Barribeau went on to officiate Division I men’s and women’s basketball games in some of the most competitive conferences in the country such as the Big Ten, Big Eight and the Southeastern Conference. In 2022, the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association inducted Barribeau into its Hall of Fame for his years of officiating.

In his first three seasons with UWO, Barribeau and the Titans finished in sixth place in the WSUC but in the 1967 season, Oshkosh went 6-2 to finish in third place. Barribeau, who served as an assistant coach for the Titans in 1971, helped turn the program into a powerhouse in the state during his time with the football team. Oshkosh went on to win three WSUC championships under Young, who only had two losing seasons from 1967 until he retired in 1976.

Barribeau was forced to leave UWO before he graduated after he was drafted by the U.S. Army in 1969. While in the military, he continued to officiate Amateur Athletic Union and armed service games while stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington. Barribeau, who served until 1971, returned to UWO to finish his degree in education and graduated from the university in 1973. After graduating, Barribeau went on to play semi-pro football for the Manitowoc Chiefs and owned J&B Sporting Goods, which sold apparel to the UWO athletics department.

Barribeau, a standout baseball, football and track athlete for Oconto Falls High School, continued to support the UWO athletics department until his death. From 1992-2019, he assisted in the fundraising efforts for the UW Oshkosh Final Four Extravaganza Party, which raised $270,000 for the athletics department.

A visitation and Mass will be held for Barribeau June 19 starting at 9:30am at St. Raphael the Archangel Church, in Oshkosh.