Originally created 02/12/99

Peach Belt suspends referee



AIKEN -- A confrontation last Saturday between the USC Aiken women's basketball coach and a game official resulted Thursday in the suspension of the referee for the remainder of this season.

Peach Belt Conference commissioner Marvin Vanover announced that Bobby Giles will not officiate in the league for the remainder of this season. Vanover made the decision after reviewing reports from Giles, USC Aiken women's coach Phil Stern and women's basketball supervisor of officials Ray Johnstone.

"The actions of the referee were totally unacceptable for any official in the Peach Belt Athletic Conference," Vanover said. "We reviewed reports, but, like the cliche, a picture tells a thousand words, and after seeing film it was pretty obvious."

The incident began in the first half of USC Aiken's game with UNC Pembroke last Saturday at Aiken when Giles assessed Stern a technical foul. The two continued to exchange words throughout the game as Giles called a couple of intentional fouls on the Lady Pacers.

The incident reached its peak at the conclusion of the contest. As Stern and Giles were leaving the floor, tempers flared near the exit.

According to a Peach Belt Conference report, Stern said to Giles, "You'll never officiate in this gym again." Giles then said some offensive words and started coming at Stern. The referee had to be restrained by official Chris Horn and was led off the court.

"I was never physically going after him and the video tape clearly shows that," Stern said. "During a game it's common for there to be words, but I never expected it to escalate to the point it did."

Vanover said, "There's probably enough blame to go around, but I've been in coaching for 30 years and I have never seen anything like this. We have to hold our referees to a higher standard."

Stern said he was satisfied with the way the conference handled the matter.

"It's unfortunate that it even occurred," he said. "But the conference had to make a judgment call and I would have stood by whatever they said. They took the right stance."

Stern's Lady Pacers, who have now lost 14 in a row, went on to drop the contest to Pembroke 90-75, but were close throughout most of the game. Pembroke started to spread the gap after the two intentional fouls were called by Giles.

Giles can return to the conference crews next season. When reached at his office in Anderson on Thursday, Giles said, "At this point in time, I have no response."

The Associated Press contributed to this article.