Authorities identify seven people who threatened referee after Kentucky's NCAA tourney loss

John Calipari argues with referee John Higgins over a call during Kentucky’s 75-73 loss to North Carolina. (AP)
John Calipari argues with referee John Higgins over a call during Kentucky’s 75-73 loss to North Carolina. (AP)

A two-month investigation by a Nebraska prosecutor has identified seven people who threatened referee John Higgins after Kentucky’s 75-73 NCAA tournament loss to North Carolina last March.

Those seven people could eventually face charges from the FBI or authorities in their jurisdictions, Sarpy County Attorney Lee Polikov told the Associated Press on Friday.

“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 in a statement.

Kentucky coach John Calipari incited a firestorm when he opened his postgame news conference by lashing out at the referees. Said Calipari, “You know, it’s amazing that we were in that game where they practically fouled out my team. Amazing that we had a chance.”

The 19 fouls called on Kentucky were only one more than the 18 assessed to North Carolina, but Wildcats stars DeAaron Fox, Malik Monk and Bam Adebayo each spent huge chunks of the first half on the bench in foul trouble. Fox, Monk and senior forward Derek Willis finished the game with four fouls apiece.

What ultimately cost Kentucky more than the first-half foul trouble was a late drought after the Wildcats had opened a five-point lead with five minutes to go. North Carolina scored the next 12 points, endured a furious Kentucky rally and won the game on a Luke Maye jumper as time expired.

Angry that their team had fallen one basket short of the Final Four, a small percentage of Kentucky fans took out their frustration by harassing Higgins.

They bombarded Higgins’ roofing business with a flood of bogus negative online reviews, causing his ratings to plummet. They made nonstop phone calls to Higgins’ business and his unlisted home number. The worst of the lunatics even made death threats toward Higgins.

Polikov told the Associated Press that at least two media outlets had promoted and posted a video montage that exposed Higgins’ contact information.

“This information has been referred to the Federal Communications Commission for further investigation,” Polikov said.

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Jeff Eisenberg is the editor of The Dagger on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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