College Sports

ACC’s Clougherty to retire after 2015-16 college basketball season

Former ACC basketball official John Clougherty has accepted the position of supervisor of officials for the Atlantic Coast Conference. He accepted the newly created position after officiating games since 1981. Clougherty is shown in his home office on Wednesday afternoon July 27, 2005.
Former ACC basketball official John Clougherty has accepted the position of supervisor of officials for the Atlantic Coast Conference. He accepted the newly created position after officiating games since 1981. Clougherty is shown in his home office on Wednesday afternoon July 27, 2005. rwillett@newsobserver.com

John Clougherty has spent the past 40 years in college basketball. He'll spend one more as the ACC's coordinator of officials before retiring after the 2015-16 season.

Cloughtery, 71, worked as one of the game's top referees — and worked some of the biggest games in college basketball history — for 30 years before taking over as the ACC's supervisor in 2005. This will be his 11th and final season in that role.

"I've been on somebody else's schedule for a long time, it would be good to be on my own schedule," Clougherty, who lives in Raleigh, said Thursday.

This past basketball season was one of the most challenging professionally for Clougherty. Veteran official Karl Hess was fired after using an ethnic slur with a fan during a Louisville-Wake Forest game in Winston-Salem on Jan. 4.

Clougherty said the situation with Hess, who was at the center of another controversy in 2012 involving N.C. State and former players Chris Corchiani and Tom Gugliotta, didn't contribute to his decision to retire.

"It really hasn't and I'm not just saying that," Clougherty said. "I loved officiating and I've loved being a supervisor. You're always going to have situations that you have to take care of and I knew that going in."

Removing Hess from the officiating schedule did make Clougherty's job more difficult. As did a hip injury to Les Jones, another top official who was unable to work any ACC games.

"There were a lot of assignments between those two guys," Clougherty said. "It was absolutely challenging and the weather in the Northeast didn't help either."

Clougherty's hoping the next season, his last, will go more smoothly. On the court, few officials can match Clougherty's resume.

A native of Duquesne, Pa., he moved to Winston-Salem in 1969 after graduating from Youngstown State and started working high school and junior-college basketball games. His first big break with the ACC was working the freshman games, back in the early 1970s when freshmen weren't eligible. By the 1975-76 season, he was a regular ACC official.

He worked ACC games for 10 years and then another 20 in the Big East and SEC until 2005. In all, he officiated in the NCAA tournament 26 times, including 12 times in the Final Four.

He worked four national championship games, including Michigan's overtime win over Seton Hall, which was decided by a pair of free throws by Rumeal Robinson with 3 seconds left — a foul call made by Clougherty.

He also was on the floor for Villanova's upset of Georgetown in the 1985 title game and when Duke knocked off unbeaten UNLV in the 1991 Final Four.

Next week, Clougherty will be inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.

"Thirty years on the floor and another 11 with the ACC is plenty," Clougherty said. "It's simply the right time for the next move."

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