Referee John Higgins hasn’t been able to get a good nights sleep the last few days. Following the conclusion of the Kentucky basketball game against North Carolina in the Final Four on Saturday, the official has been the subject of countless threats, prompting a police investigation according to the Associated Press.
The threats have come through phone calls and messages, as well as several sources online.
The police investigation is being headed by Matt Barrall of the Sarpy County Sheriff’s Department. Barrall said he is currently in his fifth day working the case full time, and is taking the case “very – extremely – seriously.”
Barrall said he has identified 450 phone calls or messages and another 200-300 messages on social media or in emails that were of threatening nature. Additionally, the roofing company which Higgins owns was slammed with negative reviews, causing his rating on Google to plummet. Nearly 3,000 calls were placed to his office in the two days succeeding the game, some of which meet the criteria of being terroristic threats.
The penalty for terroristic threats in Nebraska is punishable by up to three years in prison.
Calling it an example of a “21st century mob mentality,” Barrall said the next step is to being issuing subpoenas for phone and other records for those who made qualifying threats.
Higgins said he was initially wary about officiating the game between South Carolina and Gonzaga. He briefly considered giving up officiating, but decided that he wouldn’t let himself be swayed by a contingency of fans who fail to behave appropriately. ‘I’ll continue it. It’s fun. I’m competitive,” he said. ”I’ll be fine going forward.”
Higgins has had extra patrol cars around his house following the threats that were made after the game. There has also been an increased presence at his place of business.