During a game Sunday evening between Louisville and Wake Forest, referee Karl Hess allegedly directed a disparaging remark towards Mit Shah, a Wake Forest alum and former member of the school’s Board of Trustees who was sitting courtside.
“When I’m older, I want to sit in your seat & watch your Egyptian ass ref a game.”
According to multiple outlets Hess, who had been officiating ACC games since 1995, has called his last ACC game with the conference firing him Friday morning. Hess spoke with Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com about his firing, which he described as “devastating” while also admitting that he was responsible for the comment directed towards Shah (who is of Indian descent). Hess stated that he was not trying to hurt Shah with his comment.
“It’s a sad day and is devastating,” Hess told ESPN on Friday. “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.”
With officials being independent contractors (which also results in some of them working as many as six games in a week) other conferences can still use him for assignments. According to Goodman’s report Hess will not work his final game for the American Athletic Conference on Sunday, and the Big East is currently investigating the incident as well.
But this episode brings to an end what was an at times tumultuous tenure for Hess in the ACC, which included his ejecting NC State greats Tom Gugliotta and Chris Corchianni from a game in February 2012.
Following that incident Hess didn’t work another NC State game until last month, when he officiated NC State’s 55-54 home loss to Wofford. If you follow this on Twitter, you’ve undoubtedly seen the #whereintheworldisKarlHess hashtag that was birthed by college basketball writer Patrick Stevens nearly three years ago. Friday, it was decided that such searches will no longer include ACC arenas.
UPDATE: The fallout continued later on Friday for the the veteran official. Hess elected to withdraw from the remainder of his scheduled SEC games, according to Sean Farnham of ESPN:
Karl Hess has withdrawn from all SEC assignments for the remainder of the 2015 season
— Sean Farnham (@SeanFarnham) January 10, 2015