North Carolina

Remember the ref Kentucky fans trashed after UNC win? He’s suing over fan threats.

Kentucky head coach John Calipari, right, addresses official John Higgins after being assessed a technical foul during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Vanderbilt, in Lexington, Ky., in February 2017.
Kentucky head coach John Calipari, right, addresses official John Higgins after being assessed a technical foul during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Vanderbilt, in Lexington, Ky., in February 2017. AP

John Higgins, the college basketball referee reviled by University of Kentucky basketball fans after the Wildcats’ Elite 8 loss to North Carolina in March, has filed a civil lawsuit against Kentucky Sports Radio and its owners.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday in Nebraska claims KSR and operators Matt Jones and Drew Franklin shared Higgins’ personal and business information over the air, which proved harmful to his family and business, The Athletic reported. The complaint cites death threats made against the Higgins family and alleges coverage by the station goaded angry fans into contacting Higgins’ roofing company, Weatherguard.

The lawsuit – seeking more than $75,000 in damages – alleges intentional infliction of emotional distress, invasion of privacy, civil conspiracy and interference with a business.

Jones responded to the lawsuit Tuesday on Twitter, saying it is “frivolous and without any legal merit whatsoever.”

Tar Heels fans remember the game well. It was when Luke Maye scored with three-tenths of a second to play, giving UNC the 75-73 win over Kentucky and a ticket to the Final Four for second straight year.

The Kentucky loss led some members of Big Blue Nation to point fingers at the officiating for the game. Even coach John Calipari criticized the officiating during the postgame news conference, saying “You know, it’s amazing that we were in that game where they practically fouled out my team. Amazing that we had a chance,” according to the complaint.

Kentucky fans ultimately found the Facebook page for Higgins’ roofing company and bombarded it with negative comments and reviews.

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