Police Identify 7 People Who Threatened Referee of Kentucky-UNC Elite 8 Matchup

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMay 27, 2017

MEMPHIS, TN - MARCH 26: Isaiah Hicks #4 and Kennedy Meeks #3 of the North Carolina Tar Heels compete for a loose ball with Isaiah Briscoe #13  of the Kentucky Wildcats in the first half during the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament South Regional at FedExForum on March 26, 2017 in Memphis, Tennessee.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Police have identified seven individuals who threatened college basketball referee John Higgins following Kentucky's 75-73 loss to North Carolina in the Elite Eight round of the 2017 NCAA tournament on March 26 at the FedEx Forum. No charges were immediately filed.

Eric Olson of the Associated Press received the news Friday from Sarpy County, Nebraska, attorney Lee Polikov, who didn't publicly disclose the names. He told the AP all of the evidence would be passed along to the jurisdictions where the threats originated.

"Based on the investigation's findings, our office has determined that no local charges will be filed and that pursuit of any criminal charges would be best served by deferring to authorities in the appropriate jurisdictions," Polikov said. "The length of the investigation was drawn out due in part to the large volume of potential evidence requiring analysis, and the multi-jurisdictional issues arising from the multiple states in which the communications originated."

Polikov added at least two media outlets, which have been identified, promoted Higgins' contact information, and the Federal Communications Commission received the findings to review for possible federal regulation violations.      

Higgins lives in the Omaha, Nebraska, area and runs a roofing business in addition to working as a referee. The investigation revealed the company received roughly 3,000 phone calls and a "flood of bogus negative online reviews" after the game, and the office required extra police patrols, according to the AP report.

After the March 26 loss, Wildcats head coach John Calipari lamented the fact three of his five starters racked up four fouls in the contest, per Kyle Tucker of SEC Country.

"You know, it's amazing that we were in that game where they practically fouled out my team," he said. "Amazing that we had a chance. So proud of how these guys fought."

Calipari added: "There was a lot of stuff that went on and our kids fought through it. I told them at halftime, 'It is what it is. And you've got to beat who's out there. Let's go and don't worry about it.'"

No member of the Tar Heels roster had more than three fouls in the victory. UNC went on to win the national championship with a triumph over the Gonzaga Bulldogs in the title game.

Higgins told the AP of his appreciation for the work the authorities did on the case.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.