Ted Valentine is not taking his punishment well.
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Valentine, a veteran college basketball referee with three decades of experience, including last year's Final Four, will not work any games during the 2018 NCAA Tournament. He says it's punishment for his actions during the North Carolina–Florida State game on Jan. 3.
In the second half of Florida State's eventual win in Tallahassee, North Carolina senior guard Joel Berry II was clearly held by Seminoles' guard Terance Mann. The hold resulted in a pass sailing over Berry's head and out of bounds, at which time Berry grabbed the ball and approached Valentine asking for an explanation. Instead of simply telling Berry he didn't see it, didn't believe it was a foul or suggest they speak at the next timeout, Valentine turned around like a spoiled toddler who didn't get a cherry fruit roll-up at snack time.
Valentine — who was suspended by the Big Ten for two games and considered retirement as a result of the incident — apologized to Berry and Roy Williams a couple weeks later when he worked their game vs. Georgia Tech. Two months later, the issue is being revisited after Valentine told ESPN he did not receive any NCAA Tournament assignments because of his actions.
"This is not right, it's just not fair," Valentine said. "It hit me like a ton of bricks. I'm being punished unjustly."
Is it a fair punishment? Maybe, maybe not, but that's beside the point.
"I asked him why?" Valentine said of a conversation with NCAA coordinator of officials J.D. Collins. "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.' "
Apologizing and joking around with Berry is not fixing the situation. It was the right thing to do but did not fix it. It did not fix a remarkable lack of professionalism toward a student-athlete seeking a two-second explanation.
It would've been fine had the NCAA allowed him to work the tournament. Barring him is fine, too.