Referee Karl Hess' ethnic comment costs him job in ACC

Seton Hall's Paul Gause pleads his case with Referee Karl Hess during the second half of this college basketball game against North Carolina State, Wednesday, Jan 25, 2006, at the RBC Center in Raleigh, NC. Seton Hall won 83-65. (AP Photo/ Karl DeBlaker)

Karl Hess is widely regarded as one of the best officials in college basketball but that didn't stop the ACC from terminating him this week after he made an inappropriate comment to a Wake Forest booster sitting courtside during a game against Louisville.

The booster, Mit Shah, the former chairman of the Wake Forest board of trustees, used his Twitter account to post a quote he attributed to Hess during the game.

"Karl Hess to me at the Wake-Louisville game tonight...'When I'm older I want to sit in your seat & watch your Egyptian ass ref a game' #Wow"

Shah is the CEO of an Atlanta-based hotel management company. He is of Indian descent but was born in the U.S. and grew up in North Carolina. Shah did not return messages from Yahoo Sports.

To this point, the ACC is the only league to terminate its relationship with Hess. It's a relationship that dates back more than two decades. Hess has reportedly withdrawn from assignments in the American and Southeastern Conferences for the rest of the season but had not done the same with the Big 12 and Big East as of Friday.

"It's a sad day and is devastating, but I'm responsible," Hess told ESPN.

While Hess is considered one of the better officials in the college game, he is a polarizing figure among fans because of previous incidents and his interactions with fans, coaches and players during games.

Hess was reprimanded in 2012 by the ACC for the failing to follow the league's protocol for ejecting spectators in a game between Florida State and North Carolina State. Hess ejected former North Carolina State stars Tom Gugliotta and Chris Corchiani because they were badgering him about calls.

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[Kyle Ringo is the assistant editor of The Dagger on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!