March Madness 2018: Referee Ted Valentine not assigned; says payback for Joel Berry incident

Ted Valentine says he won't be officiating NCAA Tournament games this year because of his January incident with North Carolina guard Joel Berry.

Longtime basketball referee Ted Valentine will not be officiating in the 2018 NCAA Tournament. According to him, it's because of his January incident with North Carolina guard Joel Berry in which Valentine turned his back on Berry.

Valentine told ESPN on Monday the decision was "just not fair ... It hit me like a ton of bricks. I'm being punished unjustly." He said he was informed of the decision Saturday by J.D. Collins, the NCAA's coordinator of officials.

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The incident with Berry took place in a Jan. 3 game between North Carolina and Florida State. Berry attempted to corral an outlet pass but appeared to be held by an FSU defender as the ball sailed out of bounds. The Tar Heels guard then began to talk to Valentine about the no-call, which prompted Valentine to cross his arms and turn his back to Berry.

Valentine said later he apologized to Berry and UNC head coach Roy Williams. The referee officiated the Tar Heels' ACC Tournament semifinal game against Duke on Friday.

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"I screwed up," Valentine told ESPN, "but I went back a week later and apologized, and [Berry] 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."

Valentine was pulled off two Big Ten Conference assignments following the incident.

Collins declined to provide details when contacted by ESPN. "I do not disclose selections, assignments or advancements. That's not fair to anyone," he was quoted as saying.