Ed Hightower has refereed basketball for over 36 years including 12 NCAA Division 1 Final Fours. He also officiated the 1990 World Championship of Basketball in South America, the European Basketball Championship in 1993, and the Goodwill Games in 1994 and 1998. He is a frequent official in Big Ten and Big East games. Hightower was voted the Naismith Division I Men’s College Basketball Official of the Year in 1992. In 1995, he received the National Association of Sports Officials’ Gold Whistle Award. In 1998, he was inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. He retired from officiating on December 22, 2013, after his final game between the Iowa Hawkeyes and Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions in Iowa City.
Ed Hightower was appointed to the SIU Board of Trustees by Gov. JB Pritzker on March 22, 2019. He previously served from 2001 to 2014. He also served on the Lewis and Clark Community College Board of Trustees for over 26 years.
In 2015, Dr. Hightower retired as Superintendent of the Edwardsville School District 7. In the 19 years he led the district, it grew from 5,000 students to over 7,000 students and became one of the top districts in the state, with remarkable accomplishments in academics, athletics and in the performing arts.
Supervising over $160 million in school construction during his tenure, Dr. Hightower raised millions of dollars from private sources to build a wrestling center and aquatic center with an Olympic-sized pool as well as funding computer upgrades through the Technology in the 21st Century Classroom Initiative.