Ted Valentine lived up to his attention-seeking reputation with his needlessly melodramatic response to the controversy over his decision to turn his back on North Carolina point guard Joel Berry during last Wednesday night’s game at Florida State.
The longtime referee expressed frustration over the torrent of criticism he has received on social media and even suggested that he is considering walking away from the profession he has worked in for almost three decades.
“I’m thinking about retiring,” Valentine told The Athletic in a story published Sunday morning. “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.”
When pressed by the athletic on whether retirement was really a serious option, Valentine insisted that it was. He said he would take “this weekend to evaluate, what is it that I want to do? Do I want to go back? Can I put up with this?”
The incident that sparked the uproar took place with a little more than seven minutes left in North Carolina’s 81-80 loss to Florida State. Referees appeared to miss Florida State guard Terance Mann holding Berry to impede his progress as he tried in vain to catch an outlet pass that instead sailed over his head and out of bounds.
As Berry approached Valentine to argue the call, the longtime referee refused to have any semblance of a conversation with the senior co-captain. Valentine instead theatrically turned his back on Berry and remained that way until the North Carolina point guard walked away.
UNC's Joel Berry tried to discuss a non-call with referee Ted Valentine.
Valentine was not interested. pic.twitter.com/dP5jeL90pK
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 4, 2018
Video of the incident spread quickly on social media and became fodder for sports talk radio and TV shows the following day. The consensus was that Valentine missed the call and also could have found a more respectful way than turning his back to diffuse the situation.
Had Valentine admitted his mistake, apologized for it and moved on, this all would have long blown over. Referees make mistakes just like all of us do in our jobs, and this particular one was far from a capital offense.
But by portraying himself as the victim and threatening to retire, Valentine is only cementing his reputation for making the game too much about himself. He’s living up to the derisive “TV Teddy” nickname fans have given him for his exaggerated calls and sporadic confrontations.
If Valentine is truly considering retirement, it would be a loss for college basketball. He is well-respected by coaches and has worked 28 NCAA tournaments, 10 Final Fours and four national championship games.
But the very best referees are typically the ones who make everyone else forget they’re even there. Valentine, as this incident has proven once again, has never possessed that ability to fade into the background.
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