Ref Sues Radio Station After Angry Fans Deluge Him

John Higgins blames Kentucky station for death threats and lost business
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 4, 2017 9:16 AM CDT
Radio Station Hated This Ref. Now He's Suing
Referee John Higgins referees a game between Iowa State and Kansas.   (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

After North Carolina beat Kentucky on a buzzer-beater earlier this year in the NCAA tournament, Kentucky's coach and lots of fans blamed the refs. So, too, did the host of a call-in show on Kentucky Sports Radio, who directed most of his anger at referee John Higgins and read emails on the air that encouraged fans to harass Higgins and his roofing business in Omaha, reports Courthouse News. Higgins and his family received so many death threats that police put patrols outside their house, and his business website was deluged with so many one-star Yelp reviews that it went from the best-rated to the worst-rated in the area. Now Higgins is suing Kentucky Sports Radio for $75,000, alleging that the station shared personal and professional information about him that caused emotional stress, an invasion of privacy, and lost business.

As the Athletic notes, the anti-Higgins campaign continued on KSR's Facebook page, where the station added a disclaimer stating that it does "not condone the activity from Big Blue Nation on John Higgins’s roofing company’s Facebook page." But it added: "Like Big Blue Nation, we are still upset over some of Higgins’ calls in the UK-UNC game, so we can and will read the activity on the Facebook page." Station exec Matt Jones called the lawsuit "frivolous" and said he expected a quick victory. Higgins, however, disagrees. “A critique or two, with lively language, is to be expected," his complaint reads. "Death threats and defamatory messages in the thousands that lead to a serious disruption in a referee’s business are not to be expected, [and] are tortious." (More NCAA basketball stories.)

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