The NCAA has sent six officials home from the NCAA Tournament in Indiana due to a positive COVID-19 test and subsequent contact tracing. Some of college basketball's most notorious officials were among the group sent packing, including Ted Valentine and John Higgins.
Stadium has the story:
"The referees were told to arrive by Sunday night and check into their hotel, but multiple officials said that the rooms weren’t ready upon their arrival, nor was there any food. Instead of having the officials wait in a secure area, they were allowed to leave for dinner and the group of Valentine, Higgins, 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, sources told Stadium. He then tested twice on Monday morning, and tested positive."
Since they had eaten together and hadn't been wearing masks, the Indiana Department of Health ruled they were unable to work the NCAA Tournament.
How dumb were these guys? They had obviously all just traveled to Indiana and could have easily picked up the virus along the way, and they decided to congregate together without masks? That's just insane behavior given the stakes and the world we're currently living in. Last March this mistake could have been excused, but a year later it simply can't be. Isolate six feet away from everyone until you can get tested.
Valentine and Higgins are among the most loathed officials nationally, so plenty of college basketball fans will be rejoicing at this news. There are countless videos online bemoaning repeated terrible calls from Valentine. Here's one:
Meanwhile, Higgins actually sued two Kentucky radio hosts because they criticized him on air. Matt Jones and Drew Franklin ripped Higgins but did denounce fans the harassing him. But Jones and Franklin continued to criticize Higgins and mentioned that angry fans had been targeting his Nebraska roofing business. In the end, the U.S. Court of Appeals rejected the lawsuit on First Amendment grounds.
Let's just be real here, no one will miss Higgins, Valentine or the rest of these guys. The NCAA brought 60 officials to Indiana for the tournament and the remaining 54 should be plenty to get this done.