Veteran college basketball official Ted Valentine, who has worked 10 Final Fours and four national title games in his career, will not be allowed to officiate the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive season due to an issue that occurred during the 2021 NCAA Tournament when the event was held in Indianapolis in a bubble, a source close to the situation told Stadium.
“This is very disappointing because Ted is poised in big games,” one ACC head coach told Stadium. “He’s still one of the top guys out there, and he’s calmed the drama down in the last couple years.”
“He’s still maybe the best ‘play caller’ in the game among the referees,” added a Hall of Fame coach.
Valentine was one of six of the sport’s top officials that was removed from the NCAA Tournament in 2021 after one tested positive for COVID-19. The officials checked into their hotel, but the rooms weren’t ready and were told by someone representing the NCAA they were allowed to leave for dinner.
Valentine, John Higgins, Roger Ayers, John Gaffney, Kipp Kissinger and Ray Natili all went to Harry & Izzy’s steakhouse in downtown Indianapolis. Upon their return to the hotel, they took COVID-19 tests and one of the referees tested positive. Due to the fact that they ate together and weren’t wearing masks, the Indiana Department of Health deemed them unable to work in the NCAA Tournament.
Valentine was the lone referee to remain at the hotel, in hopes he would be cleared to officiate the Sweet 16 after receiving a vaccine. He stayed for a couple days before ultimately leaving.
For the second consecutive season, the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee has denied Valentine’s reinstatement bid to the tournament. He will be eligible for the 2024 NCAA Tournament, provided he meets the NCAA officiating eligibility requirements stated during the regional officiating clinics.
Valentine, 64, has primarily worked ACC games this season.
“I would take him on every game we play,” said one ACC head coach. “He’s still on top in the officiating world, among the game’s elite. He works, is still in very good shape and manages the game as well as anyone. He’s still an outstanding official.”