When did you referee your first college basketball game?
"My first Division I game was in Charleston at Baptist College, which is now Charleston Southern, back in 1981. I got $150. I got a speeding ticket going down and got one going back. I was a high school teacher and coach back then."
You were living in Charleston, W.Va. How did you end up in Charleston, S.C.?
"I had knee surgery. I got tired of the cold weather. I've been here eight years."
How did you get into officiating?
"I started when I was at Glenville State College in West Virginia. I took a class and started working little kids' games. I was a janitor on work study and always closed down the college gym. I asked a couple of refs how to get started. I went through the process of little kids' games, junior high games and pretty soon went to high school. I kept going and going."
Were you an athlete?
"I was a baseball player and manager on the basketball team. I'm in my college's hall of fame. I didn't play basketball. I learned basketball by watching tape, watching games."
Is it a fulltime job? And if so, what do you do in the offseason?
"It's been fulltime for me since 1988 when I left my high school teaching job. In the offseason I go to camps, start learning some new things, new techniques. I work with North Charleston Parks and Recreation. I'm involved in some youth things. I play a lot of golf and watch a lot of basketball. Basketball season is a long, five-month grind."
How far will you go this season?
"I don't know. That is determined by John Adams (the NCAA supervisor of officials) and the committee. But to me it's no big deal because I've been to six Final Fours and worked four national championships. How much can you put on an obituary, I like to say."
What's your favorite place to call a game?
"Madison Square Garden. I've been there lots of times and love going there."
Any favorite coaches?
"All my favorites are blue collar-type guys. Gene Keady, who used to be at Purdue. Tom Izzo (Michigan State), Gary Williams (Maryland), Jimmy Calhoun (Connecticut). Coach K (Duke's Mike Krzyzewski) is a blue-collar guy. Leonard Hamilton of Florida State. When the game is over, it's over. They're not on the phone whining and crying about some controversial thing."
What's the best jab you've ever gotten from a fan?
"A fan yelling out one time, 'Valentine, go back to Foot Locker.' "
You occasionally interact with fans. Give us some insight on that.
"People just know my name. I'm like 'Cheers.' Everybody knows my name no matter where I go. I think you can handle it with a sense of humor. I chuckle and I laugh because they're part of the game, too. If they say something nasty, I don't pay attention to that stuff. They're not vicious people. You can't take it personal. They're rooting for their team, and it's that black and white shirt."
Worst call you ever made?
"It was my rookie year in the Big Ten, Wisconsin playing Indiana at Wisconsin. The game went to triple or four overtimes. Steve Alford was a guard for Indiana. I was like 26 years of age, a young pup. I made a call as a trail official that wasn't a foul against Wisconsin and Indiana got the ball and scored. I went back and saw the film. It was one of the most awful things I could ever live with. The next day I got on the phone and called the coach, Steve Yoder, and told him how I was sorry about the play. He didn't yell or scream at me. He said he appreciated me being conscientious and said 'Someday, you're going to be a good official.' "
What percentage of calls do officials get right?
"If fans really look at it real close, it would be in the 90 percentile range."