Official Karl Hess Fired By ACC

If you watch anything with regularity, eventually you start noticing the slightest details and catch things that you normally wouldn’t. If you watch college basketball often enough, you eventually start to know the referees. And, if you’ve watched ACC basketball over the years, it doesn’t take long for you to learn the name of infamous (now former) ACC referee Karl Hess.

“King Karl” as he’s derisively known to many, served as an ACC basketball official for more than 25 years. He was fired this past Friday after a reported racial statement was directed towards hotel magnate and former chairman of the Wake Forest University board of trustees, Mit Shah.

Shah, who has now made his twitter account private tweeted out this statement after he attended the Wake Forest – Louisville game January 4th:

“Karl Hess to me at the Wake-Louisville game tonight…”When I’m older, I want to sit in your seat & watch your Egyptian a** ref a game” #Wow”.

Shah was born in New Jersey, but he grew up in Winston-Salem and is of Indian descent. If you care enough, check out Shah’s bio from his investment group — perhaps this is why his tweet and complaints drew more attention and action than those of the average Joe might.

Hess went on to tell ESPN on Friday that “It’s a sad day and is devastating…But I’m responsible.”

“I wasn’t trying to deliberately hurt anyone,” he added. “That’s not my character. I goof around a lot, and there was no intent to hurt anyone.”

Whether any of what Hess said is sincere is another thing, but most ACC fans will tell you they won’t miss the much maligned referee. He has a notorious reputation for being quick with his whistle, giving technical fouls to anyone who dared question his decisions and for making on-court issues personal over the years, which has led many to question whether or not he harbored vendettas.

Hess’ reactionary nature didn’t just offend folks in the ACC as he worked many games for the Big East and called the action in countless NCAA Tournament games including six Final Fours.

Here are a few of Hess’ glowing reviews over the years, this one by the 2013 eventual national champions Louisville Cardinals after a tournament game talking about Hess’ actions during the game:

Here’s a clip from the aftermath when Hess ejected Nebraska head coach Tim Miles from a first round NCAA Tournament game after Miles correctly pointed out an error with the shot clock. Miles had earned just one technical foul during the entire regular season.

Then there’s this ridiculous confrontation with two former NC State legends in Tom Gugliotta and Chris Corchiani, who were tossed (unjustly) by Hess after the two alums continued to let Hess know how they felt about his calls during most of the game:

The ACC later publicly reprimanded Hess for his over the top actions in tossing two former ACC stars.

Hess drew even more ire from Wolfpack fans when just last month Hess officiated a game in Raleigh for the first time since he ejected Gugliotta and Corchiani. The Fans booed Hess at every turn, staying on his case (and rightfully so) from the get-go. The “love-fest” for Hess quickly escalated when he called a technical foul on NC State coach Mark Gottfried barely 4 minutes into the game against Wofford. The game ended on a shocking last second shot that was waved off for NC State, bringing Wofford the upset victory at Reynolds coliseum. The fans threw trash at Hess as he vacated the floor.

You know you’re a villian when someone makes up a spoof – twitter account in your “honor.”

Hopefully this will signify the end of certain officials who think people pay good money to watch them. It’s never good for the game or the integrity of a league when you have an egotistical referee who starts to affect the flow and outcomes of games. I hope this firing of a long tenured official sends a message to any Karl Hess, Jr’s waiting in the wings.
We bid you adieu, Karl.


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