First there was ire for Ted Valentine – but could a simple in-game incident end his career?
During the second half of Wednesday’s game between North Carolina and Florida State, Valentine, a college basketball official for almost 30 years, turned his back on UNC point guard Joel Berry. Berry was trying to discuss a call with Valentine, where he’d been held from behind and no foul was called.
But rather than hear out Berry, the Most Outstanding Player from last season’s national championship game, Valentine turned his back. UNC would go on to lose the game 81-80.
And while social media went ablaze with criticism for Valentine in that moment, there was no telling how far this incident would carry.
First, UNC coach Roy Williams told reporters Friday that Valentine, “didn’t look good. I don’t think the intention was there for it to look as bad as it did look.”
Then Valentine was removed from two Big Ten games he was supposed to work, and when given the option to work Georgia Tech’s home game against Yale on Saturday, he declined.
Now, Valentine is saying he may retire from officiating altogether.
“I’m thinking about retiring,” Valentine said in an interview with The Athletic. “I’ve had enough of people blowing up stuff. I think I’ve had a stellar career, and I think it’s time to get ready to walk away.”
Valentine has endured controversy before in his career, such as when he ejected then-Indiana coach Bob Knight from a 1998 game, but he is still one of college basketball’s most respected officials. He has worked 10 Final Fours, including last season’s national semifinal between Oregon and UNC.
Valentine also said in the interview that part of the reason he was considering retirement was because of the social media aspect of the situation. After college basketball analyst Jay Bilas tweeted about the incident, the vilification of Valentine began.
“I am thinking about walking away from the whole thing because of all the social media,” Valentine said. “First you’re guilty, then you have to prove yourself innocent. I’m just tired of it.
“I’m a better person, I’m a better referee, I’m tired of being cut on. I really am. So I’m taking this weekend to evaluate, what is it that I want to do? Do I want to go back? Can I put up with this? I’m going to take it one day at a time and see how it goes.”