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SEC responds to LSU ref controversy

Somehow, an LSU fan got to referee LSU vs. Tennessee.

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NCAA Basketball: Tennessee at Louisiana State Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

The LSU Tigers beat the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday 82-80 in overtime. But nowadays, it seems no win in the SEC goes without some sort of controversy.

After a no-call on a clear offensive interference led to a buzzer-beater victory for the Tigers over Kentucky, they followed it up with another controversial win.

This time, the Tigers and Vols were tied 80-80 and UT missed a long three-point attempt with less than five seconds to play. LSU’s Javonte Smart grabbed the defensive rebound, but while doing so, Grant Williams was unable to slow his momentum and ended up fouling Smart with less than a second remaining. Take a look at the sequence:

Was it a foul on Grant Williams? Of course. But would I have called a foul with 0.6 seconds remaining that effectively ended the game? That’s a harder question to answer.

But the referees had to call a foul once Williams flopped. His incessant flopping finally caught up to him, and, probably, cost his team the game. In the regular sequence of events, there’s no way the referees call that foul 80 feet from the basket. But once the flop occurred, it couldn’t be ignored.

So, yes, maybe LSU got a little lucky. (I’m starting to believe Will Wade made some sort of deal with the devil). But the reasoning goes farther than just a simple foul call. The controversy has become who made the call.

Joe Rexrode of the Tennessean reached out to the SEC for a comment after the recent discovery that the official who made the decisive call, Anthony Jordan, had a 2014 social media post in which he held up an LSU shirt with a caption that read “Geaux Tigers.”

Anthony Dewayne Jordan

The SEC associate commissioner, Herb Vincent, responded the following to Rexrode via email:

“Anthony Jordan, the official in this social media post, has communicated to us that while traveling in Spain five years ago he saw the t-shirt from an SEC team for sale in a store,” Vincent wrote. “He took a picture and posted that picture to be seen by friends via his social media account. He said it was his intent to make a light-hearted social media post about having seen the t-shirt in another country and not to express affinity for a particular school.”

He added that Jordan has officiated in the SEC for 19 years, including 11 NCAA postseason tournament assignments.

He then went on to say that “[w]e do not find this social media post to be acceptable with our expectations and will proceed accordingly, while also acknowledging Mr. Jordan has a lengthy track record as a fair and impartial basketball official.”

What does “proceed accordingly” mean? I’m not sure, but I’d have to assume that means Jordan won’t be doing any more LSU games, at the very least.

According to Rexrode, this is what the current SEC officials conflict-of-interest policy looks like:

  • Any school the official attended (either as a student or faculty).
  • Any school where immediate family (spouse or children) is currently enrolled.
  • Any school where the official played for or with the current head coach.
  • Any school where there is a relative on coaching staff.
  • Any school where there is a business relationship with the head coach and/or institution.
  • Any school where the official or an immediate family member is currently employed by the institution.

Nowhere does it say that an official cannot referee a game in which he is a fan of a school. However, it’d seem logical for that to be more of an unspoken rule, as it’s hard to quantify what being a fan is exactly.

But believe it or not, there’s even more to the story. Check out this tweet from CBS Sports’ Barrett Sallee:

Do I think Jordan was so biased that he consciously made calls in favor of LSU? No, I don’t. But it is concerning and it is a bad look for the SEC. That call could have very well decided the winner of the SEC regular season title.

Let’s hope that in the future, this doesn’t become a recurring problem. I would be pretty upset if it was Kentucky, instead of Tennessee, on the other end of this. Regardless, it could have effectively ended UK’s chance of earning a one seed in the SEC Tournament.