Back in January, ever-controversial college basketball referee Ted Valentine dramatically turned his back on North Carolina guard Joel Berry as Berry protested a call, sparking some outrage and leading to an apology from the official.
Two months later, the incident has apparently come back to bite Valentine again. The referee will not officiate the upcoming NCAA Tournament, which he claims to be punishment for the Berry saga. Via ESPN:
“This is not right, it’s just not fair,” Valentine told ESPN. “It hit me like a ton of bricks. I’m being punished unjustly.”
Valentine told ESPN he was informed by NCAA coordinator of officials J.D. Collins of the decision just prior to working the Wichita State-Houston AAC semifinal game on Saturday.
“I asked him why,” Valentine said. “We talked about the Joel Berry situation and how he had a discussion with the Big Ten. But I told him, ‘I fixed the situation.'”
Valentine often draws eye rolls for his flamboyant calls and spirited banter with coaches and players, which have earned him the nickname “TV Teddy,” but the Berry run-in was extreme even for him. After the North Carolina senior was victim to an obvious foul late in the second half of a game against Florida State on January 3, he looked to Valentine for a call and expressed exasperation when he didn’t get it. That led Valentine to turn around and face away from Berry in a melodramatic show of disdain.
Joel Berry gets held, which leads to a turnover (easy call to miss in transition, BUT) Ted Valentine then refuses to engage Berry in conversation, literally turning his back to him. pic.twitter.com/q8jxDtVhFC
— Hayes Permar (@DHPIV) January 4, 2018
As Jay Bilas pointed out upon seeing the play, any ref would be furious if a player showed that level of disrespect to an official.
Wow. An official in the UNC-FSU game literally turned his back on a four-year player trying to speak with him after a dead ball timeout. And, officials talk about players showing officials up. Ridiculous.
— Jay Bilas (@JayBilas) January 4, 2018
After some backlash, Valentine admitted he “screwed up” and told ESPN he had apologized to Berry, while simultaneously downplaying the incident. He also said he had considered retirement because he’d “had enough of people blowing up stuff.”
Now, Valentine’s absence from the NCAA Tournament has received mixed response. Many fans, fed up with Valentine’s antics, seem pretty pleased that he won’t be on the floor during March Madness. But others, including some prominent TV Teddy detractors, have argued that punishing him two months after the incidence with Berry was overkill.
If Ted Valentine does not officiate in the NCAA Tournament due to the Joel Berry thing, that’s just wrong. Valentine is one of the game’s best officials. The game should not suffer over that one, minor thing.
— Jay Bilas (@JayBilas) March 12, 2018
Teddy Valentine not in the NCAA Tournament is absurd..great ref..not afraid…coaches respect him…we can’t wait to crush people for simple mistakes..bad decision
— Dan Dakich (@dandakich) March 13, 2018
Fair or not, Valentine won’t be on the floor over the next few weeks, and you can bet every referee will think twice about turning away from a player.