Ted Valentine has never shied from the spotlight, becoming one of the NCAA’s most well-known and outspoken referees in the process. He did shy away from North Carolina guard Joel Berry II back in January, however — and he believes that’s what kept him from earning a single assignment in the 2018 NCAA tournament.
“This is not right, it’s just not fair,” Valentine told ESPN’s Jeff Goodman about missing this year’s Big Dance. “It hit me like a ton of bricks. I’m being punished unjustly.”
According to Valentine, NCAA coordinator of officials J.D. Collins told him the early end to his reffing season was directly correlated to his confrontation — or lack thereof — with Berry. Here’s the incident in question:
UNC's Joel Berry tried to discuss a non-call with referee Ted Valentine.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 4, 2018
Valentine was not interested. pic.twitter.com/dP5jeL90pK
Valentine already served a two-game removal from his typical post as a Big Ten official following the incident. The backlash from his back-turning had him contemplating retirement, but now he’s upset he’s being kept from the court. He says he, Berry, and North Carolina head coach Roy Williams have cleared the air, but that still wasn’t enough to clear his name for the biggest tournament of the year.
”I asked [Collins] 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 refused to discuss the matter when pressed by ESPN.
Valentine’s spat with Berry is just the latest in a career filled with high-profile confrontations. He earned the nickname “TV Ted” in part due his high-profile argument with Bobby Knight after ejecting him from a game in 1998. Before the UNC incident, he more recently made headlines for who getting right in Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin’s face during an argument in 2014.
He took a different path with Berry, and now it appears to have cost him a chance to call games at the NCAA tournament.