Vol fans were pretty angry after Tennessee’s game against LSU back on February 23rd, and it wasn’t just because the Vols lost.
Tennessee fell 82-80 in overtime to the Tigers nearly three weeks ago, but the biggest story following the game was the officiating. That story grew even larger the next day, however.
On the Sunday evening following the Vols’ match-up with LSU, a picture of the head official from the game, Anthony Jordan, started making the rounds on social media. The photo showed Jordan holding up an LSU shirt with the words “Geaux Tigers” in the caption. The picture was a screenshot from Jordan’s Facebook page.
“Strolling thru D-town Granada doing a lil site-seeing and look what I saw,” Jordan wrote on the post. “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 came after a basketball game in which the officiating was very inconsistent and had several questionable calls. Jordan especially came under fire for his calls (and no-calls), especially the instance where he called a foul on Tennessee’s Grant Williams with 0.6 seconds remaining in overtime that gave LSU a chance to shoot free throws in a tie ball game. Those free throws would be the deciding factor in the game.
On the Monday following the game, UT head coach Rick Barnes was asked about the picture of Jordan and if he had contacted the SEC about him and the officiating in the game.
“I am aware of it,” Barnes said at the time. “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.”
Jordan’s post on Facebook was deleted later on that Sunday night.
“I have been in contact with them (SEC) about everything that has happened,” Barnes added. “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.”
Apparently, the SEC offices were pretty upset about it.
According to long-time Knoxville reporter Jimmy Hyams, the SEC suspended Jordan following the Tennessee-LSU game on February 23rd, and he hasn’t officiated a college basketball game since. Hyams adds that Jordan won’t officiate any games in the SEC Tournament, either.
Sources: SEC men’s basketball official Anthony Jordan, who had facebook post 5 years ago appearing to show he is an LSU fan, was suspended by SEC after the LSU-UT game Feb. 23. He has not called SEC regular-season game since nor will he call any games in SEC tournament.
— Jimmy Hyams (@JimmyHyams) March 15, 2019
Prior to his suspension, Jordan had officiated SEC games for 19 years and had been assigned to 11 previous NCAA Tournaments. There’s been no word about how long Jordan’s suspension will be or when (or if) he will eventually be allowed to call games in the SEC again.
According to an email correspondence between the Tennessean’s Joe Rexrode and SEC associate commissioner Herb Vincent back on February 25th, 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.”
It appears as though Vincent and others in the SEC offices found enough evidence to go ahead and punish Jordan after the fact. It’s not much consolation to Vol fans since it doesn’t change the outcome of the game nor does it give Tennessee an edge over LSU in the regular season conference standings, but at least it’s something.
LSU finished atop the league standings in the regular season and earned sole possession of the regular season conference title. The Tigers lost in their first game of the 2019 SEC Tournament on Friday, however, as Florida’s Andrew Nembhard nailed the game-winning three-pointer with 1.2 seconds remaining in the game to give the Gators a 76-73 victory over LSU.
RTI staff writer Ben McKee also contributed to this article.