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ACC ending relationship with Karl Hess, per report

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

College basketball official Karl Hess, one of the most recognizable and controversial referees in the game, will not work future ACC matchups, according to a report from The David Glenn Show:

The decision directly follows an incident where Hess allegedly made a racist remark to a spectator, when he remarked to (Indian-American) Mit Shah, a Wake Forest booster, "When I'm older, I want to sit in your seat & watch your Egyptian ass ref a game."

The comments were obviously insensitive and unprofessional on their own, and this wasn't his first offense. Hess famously ejected NC State legends Tom Gugliotta and Chris Corchiani from the stands three years ago, a move which drew a public reprimand from the ACC:

Then there's this; Hess T'd up Rick Pitino twice, both times for yelling at his own player. (In one instance, Karl thought Coach Pitino was yelling at "Karl," but his anger was directed at "Kyle.")

This Grantland piece has more on Hess, who drew the nickname "King Karl" for his perceived inclination to insert himself into games' big moments.

The official is one of the sport's most prominent; according to, he was second in the NCAA in games worked the past two seasons, and is second to date this year as well.  He leads all refs in "home foul margin," meaning games he works tend to have the biggest disparity between the home and away sides, with visiting teams receiving 4.1 more foul calls.

Karl Hess worked 7 of Virginia's games last year (over 20%), and 92 (!) since 1996.

The terms of the ACC's move aren't exactly clear. It's possible Virginia could still see Hess during out-of-conference games, as he will still probably be prominent on your TV screens during AAC action.

Regardless of his actual work on the floor, his downfall came in his interactions with fans. Referees don't have a glorious job, but most are able to ignore the words being shouted from the crowd.  Hess, however, couldn't help but responding strongly and inappropriately to (allegedly) mild comments from fans.  Somehow, those in the stands whom he tangled with tended to be prominent individuals (like CEOs and two of the best NC State players of all-time), which helped publicize these stories even more.

Happy trails, King Karl!