Arizona Basketball

Veteran ref who called foul on Johnson last year vs. Wisconsin not working this NCAA tourney

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Replays indicate Wisconsin’s Josh Gasser initiated contact with Nick Johnson in last year’s Elite Eight but Johnson was whistled for the offensive foul (TBS screen shot)
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Tony Greene

Tony Greene

Tony Greene, a 19-year veteran ACC and SEC referee, is not working this year’s NCAA tournament for an undisclosed reason. He called the controversial offensive foul against Arizona’s Nick Johnson in the waning seconds of the Wildcats’ 64-63 overtime loss to Wisconsin in last year’s Elite Eight in Anaheim, Calif.

Greene did not go on to officiate last year’s Final Four despite making an appearance the year previously. His last game this season was the SEC final between Kentucky and Arkansas on March 15.

A project manager for the Georgia Department of Economic Development, Greene has officiated five NCAA finals.

Greene is the official who ejected Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim last season when Boeheim vehemently argued another questionable charging call on C.J. Fair in the waning seconds of a close loss at Duke.

Greene’s reputation for controversy prompted somebody to start a blog titled, “Is Tony Greene on the take?”

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Johnson tried to drive past Wisconsin’s Josh Gasser with three seconds left in last year’s game against Wisconsin. Replays show Gasser initiated contact but Greene whistled Johnson for what he thought was a push to clear space. Instead of Johnson going to the free-throw line with the chance to give Arizona the lead with three seconds left, Wisconsin gained possession with the turnover.

The Bagders turned the ball over on the inbounds play but Johnson was unable to get a shot off in time before the buzzer sounded.

“I thought it was a really, really tough call,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said about Greene’s call. “I’m going to stop there. I’ve already been fined.”

Miller was referring to the $25,000 fine levied by Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott in 2013 when Miller was irate following a loss to UCLA in the Pac-12 tournament semifinals in Las Vegas. Referee Michael Irving gave Miller a technical foul although Miller claimed that he only said, “He touched the ball,” in reference to a double-dribble call on Mark Lyons when in reality UCLA’s Jordan Adams indeed touched the ball when Lyons attempted to drive by him.

Pac-12 director of officiating Ed Rush reportedly joked about placing a bounty on Miller with the refs before that tournament. He later resigned under pressure.

Irving, who has not worked an Arizona game since, is still working in this year’s NCAA tournament. He officiated last night’s Wichita State-Notre Dame game.

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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He has also written articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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