Saturday’s trip to Baton Rouge left a sour taste in the mouths of Tennessee fans for multiple reasons.
Not only did No. 7 Tennessee lose 82-80 in overtime to then-ranked No. 13 LSU, but salt was thrown in the wound following the Vols’ second loss in three games.
On Sunday evening, a picture of the head referee from Saturday’s game – Anthony Jordan – began to circulate on social media. The picture was a screenshot from Jordan’s Facebook page in which he was holding up an LSU shirt.
“Strolling thru D-town Granada doing a lil site-seeing and look what I saw,” Jordan wrote. “To all my Bama’s..Geaux Tigers…”
Here’s a screenshot of that picture from Jordan’s Facebook page:
Not a good look for the referee in UT-LSU game from yesterday, if this photo is real.
No excuse for the Vols though. pic.twitter.com/zJRJYsRcNJ
— Jayson Swain (@SwainEvent) February 24, 2019
The discovery of the Facebook post from 2014 follows a basketball game in which the officiating was very inconsistent and had several questionable calls. During the game, Jordan blew his whistle 44 times, 29 of which were on Tennessee. Only 15 of the whistles by Jordan came against LSU. The two other officials Jordan was working with during the game combined to blow their whistles a total of 42 times.
“I am aware of it,” Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes said during his press conference on Monday. “All I can tell you is that I have trust and faith in the SEC office, that I know they’re going to do their due diligence and look at it.
“In a situation like that, all I can tell you is the protocol I have to go through. And I truly believe the SEC will do their due diligence, which I have full confidence in.”
The most notable whistle from Jordan came with 0.6 seconds remaining in overtime, when he called Grant Williams for a foul that enabled LSU to hit a pair of game-winning free throws.
Jordan’s post on Facebook was deleted on Sunday night.
“I have been in contact with them (SEC) about everything that has happened,” Barnes said. “I appreciate them and how they talk to me and what we’ve talked about.
“They are as upset about it as we would be.”
Tennessee (24-3, 12-2 SEC) now turns its attention to Ole Miss (19-8, 9-5 SEC), who it’ll face on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. ET in Oxford. As for the SEC, though, the conference is now faced with dealing with the public backlash of Jordan’s post.
According to an email correspondence between the Tennessean’s Joe Rexrode and SEC associate commissioner Herb Vincent, the SEC offices were made aware of Jordan’s post on Facebook and found it unacceptable to their expectations for officials.
“Anthony Jordan, the official in this social media post, has communicated to us that while traveling in Spain five years ago he saw the t-shirt from an SEC team for sale in a store,” Vincent told Rexrode in an email. “He took a picture and posted that picture to be seen by friends via his social media account. He said it was his intent to make a light-hearted social media post about having seen the t-shirt in another country and not to express affinity for a particular school.
“We do not find this social media post to be acceptable with our expectations and will proceed accordingly, while also acknowledging Mr. Jordan has a lengthy track record as a fair and impartial basketball official.”
In total on Saturday, the Vols were called for 22 personal fouls while LSU was whistled for 17. The Tigers shot 31 free throws compared to just 16 by Tennessee.
Jordan has officiated SEC basketball for 19 years and has been assigned to 11 NCAA Tournaments.