The Big 12 Conference last night suspended for the rest of the season the referee who counted a controversial final basket in Texas A&M's 88-86 victory over Texas Tech Saturday.

Big 12 Commissioner Kevin Weiberg said the score will stand. After a confusing 45 minutes in which the basket was counted, not counted and counted again, Range ruled that a putback at the buzzer by Texas A&M's Andy Leatherman was good.

"Referee Charles Range failed to follow appropriate protocol in the postgame situation," Weiberg said. "Officials make judgment errors and that is not in and of itself grounds for disciplinary action. However, the failure to follow proper protocol and game administration is inappropriate and compels further action on the part of the conference."

The Big 12 Conference requires that both coaches are present when officials are discussing a controversial call. A&M Coach Melvin Watkins said Range told him he was going to count the basket and based on that, Watkins allowed his team to leave the court.

"Once one team leaves the court, they can't reverse the outcome of the game," Big 12 spokesman Bo Carter said Saturday.

Texas Tech Coach James Dickey declined to comment on the conference's action, but earlier in the day said it was clear to him the basket should not have been counted.

TEASLEY TO RETURN: Junior F Nikki Teasley, who took a leave of absence from North Carolina's women's basketball team last week, should return to the team this week, according to her brother. Teasley (St. John's/Prospect Hall) played in the Tar Heels' first 12 games of the season, averaging 14 points. "She's doing very well," said Mike Teasley, an assistant boys basketball coach at Notre Dame Academy in Middleburg.