Referee John Higgins is receiving death threats from Kentucky fans

Kevin Kaduk
The Dagger

There aren’t many fans of losing college basketball teams that walk away happy with the officiating.

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Kentucky fans, though, are reportedly taking things too far.

Referee John Higgins has received death threats from Kentucky fans following UK’s Elite Eight loss to North Carolina on Sunday, ESPN’s Dana O’Neil and Jeff Goodman reported. The threats, which were made to both his home and an unlisted home phone number, prompted Higgins to meet for several hours with law enforcement on Tuesday.

He reportedly still plans to work his eighth Final Four in Arizona this weekend.

Higgins is one of the highest-profile referees in the game and was once referred to as one of the most “loathed” officials by Sports Illustrated. His hair even has its own parody Twitter account.

Higgins said in that SI piece that he doesn’t pay attention to the things said about him online because it’d be impossible for him to maintain his sanity.

But Kentucky fans have made that nearly impossible this week, flooding his roofing business’ Facebook page with fake reviews and continuing to criticize the crew’s performance, particularly during the first half of Sunday’s game. De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk and Bam Adebayo all found themselves in foul trouble with two early fouls.

Kentucky coach John Calipari didn’t help matters by targeting Higgins and his colleagues in the postgame news conference.

“You know, it’s amazing that we were in that game where they practically fouled out my team,” Calipari said on Sunday. “Amazing that we had a chance.”

The influential Kentucky Sports Radio has run several posts on Higgins’ performance, but condemned the death threats in a post Wednesday morning.

Interestingly, the person who has the most sane approach to this issue is one of the players who was affected the most. Despite being devastated after the loss, De’Aaron Fox refused to scapegoat.

“I’m not blaming the officials, man,” Fox told reporters. “We’ve been in foul trouble before. We’ve won games when we were in foul trouble. It’s tougher playing a team like North Carolina, and doing it.

“But we had a chance to win.”

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