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Monday, July 15, 2002
Kantner reportedly had no warning before firing

ESPN.com news services

NEW YORK -- Dee Kantner, one of the NBA's two female referees, has been fired, the NBA said Monday.

Dee Kanter
Referee Dee Kantner can't believe the NBA fired her.

"Dee has been terminated,'' NBA vice president of basketball operations Stu Jackson said. "There are times in a referee's development that we find that a referee is not making sufficient progress in her own development and sometimes a change is needed. In this case, we felt that her termination was warranted.''

Kantner and Violet Palmer joined the NBA's officiating staff in 1997. It was the first time in major U.S. professional sports that women officiated regular-season games in an all-male league. Both worked through the 2001-02 season.

In a story published in the Sacramento Bee, Kantner said she was given no warning before being fired and said she is "pursuing all options," which could include legal action.

"I'm completely stunned," Kantner told the Bee from her home in Charlotte, N.C. "I had no idea I was in trouble. I would have expected management to have said something, yet there was nothing in any of my reviews. I am completely blown away, to be honest."

Before she was hired by the NBA, Kantner was the supervisor of officials for the WNBA.

NBA officials are evaluated by Jackson, the league's supervisor of officials, staff observers and coaches and general managers.

NBA officiating director Ed Rush said referee Jim Kinsey also was dismissed, according to Bloomberg. At the end of last season, the league had 59 referees on staff.

The Bee story said an end-of-season ratings system ranked Kantner last, though she refutes the system that says she's the league's worst official, the story said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.