Well-known NCAA referee Ted Valentine, who officiated the Final Four last season, will not be working NCAA tournament games this year — and he told ESPN it’s because of fallout from the incident in which he turned his back on North Carolina’s Joel Berry II during a game in January.
“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.'”
Collins told ESPN on Monday afternoon, “I do not disclose selections, assignments or advancements. That’s not fair to anyone.”
Valentine, 59,? said he apologized to Berry and North Carolina coach Roy Williams, and that both were receptive. Valentine worked the ACC tournament semifinal game on Friday between Duke and UNC.
“I screwed up,” Valentine told ESPN about the January incident. “But I went back a week later and apologized, and he and I were joking and kidding. It was no big deal. I even pulled him out of a situation where he could have gotten a technical foul.”
Valentine, who had considered retirement after the Berry incident, said he was pulled off a pair of Big Ten games earlier this year because of the episode. Valentine had officiated primarily Big Ten games for 34 years, but said he began doing more ACC games two years ago because he lives in South Carolina and the travel was easier as he approached his 60s.
“It had nothing to do with the Big Ten,” Valentine said. “The ACC handled it in the utmost professional manner. It was overblown, and no big deal.”