Long Time Official Ted Valentine Wasn't Assigned To The NCAA Tournament, And He's Handling The News As Expected
ESPN- 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.'"
"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."
For reference, this is the sequence in question...
In theory, I agree that one unfortunate and since resolved incident shouldn't be enough to bar a proud, accomplished official from his sport's biggest stage, but what makes anyone think that's the case here? We are talking about a guy who's supposed to remain unmemorable by profession who boasted the nickname 'TV Teddy' long before he childishly turned his back on Joel Berry. Who cares that he was assigned to last year's Final Four? If we're talking about last year then lest we forget that over-indulgent officiating became the lead storyline of a National Championship Game that was ruined by it? Seems pretty damn reasonable to proactively attempt to avoid a similar situation by dismissing the official who - by moniker - is most likely to make himself a storyline.
Also, I can't help but wonder if Ted Valentine has even taken a second away from playing the victim to look in the mirror and consider that he might currently place a higher value on himself as a referee than the NCAA does. Never mind the infantile showing up of a player that had every right to question the officiating, because missing the crucial call late in the stages of a close, in-conference game that led to said silent treatment was just as inexcusable a sign that his showmanship is no longer worth it. I don't know if it's the fact that Ted Valentine thinks he's the star of the show that has the NCAA phasing him out, or if it's that he's done a lesser job directing said show as of late. I do know there is reason to believe it's a little bit of both.
As unfair as he thinks it is that he's being left out of the NCAA Tournament, that personal "injustice" pales in comparison to how wrong it is that during the week in which we should be highlighting the efforts of hundreds of college athletes, we are talking about someone being left out of a supplementary role that's largely merit based. Maybe the Joel Berry incident was the last straw, but it sure as shit wasn't the first strike, so Ted Valentine should have silently taken a seat on the bench and waited to see if he got another at-bat. I can't believe he couldn't figure this out on his own, but instantly turning his absence into a distraction only validates it.