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John Higgins finally speaks up about threats from UK fans

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In a new story for Omaha.com, we finally hear from John Higgins for the first time after Kentucky fans lit up his phone lines and his business page with criticisms (to put it lightly) of his officiating in the UK-UNC Elite Eight game.

Higgins said things got so bad, some of his family members wanted him to retire after 28 years as a referee, while many of his employees were afraid to drive around town in company trucks. His roofing business dropped to a 1.0 rating from a 4.8 rating on Facebook, although it is slowly climbing back up now that things have died down.

Higgins also said he thought he and his two colleagues called a fair game in Memphis, which is part of the reason why he was asked to do his eighth Final Four.

“My job is to be fair to both teams,’’ he told the website. “Be professional and demand sportsmanship. That’s what we’re supposed to do as officials. That’s what I try to do every time I get out.’’

Higgins estimates he received thousands of phone calls, e-mails and Facebook comments, some fans calling as many as 40 or 50 times in one day. Things didn’t slow down until his office blocked any incoming calls from Kentucky area codes.

“Nobody has ever seen anything like this,’’ Higgins said. “This is crazy.’’

[Omahan referee John Higgins putting life back together after frightening threats from angry Kentucky fans]

Article written by Drew Franklin

I can recite every line from Forrest Gump, blindfolded. Follow me on Twitter: @DrewFranklinKSR

46 Comments for John Higgins finally speaks up about threats from UK fans



  1. jdarren1963
    4:17 pm April 4, 2017 Permalink

    True, his job is to be fair to both teams. Too bad he’s terrible at his job.



    • Ridge Runner
      4:56 pm April 4, 2017 Permalink

      Sums it up completely



  2. AllBlueAllDay
    4:18 pm April 4, 2017 Permalink

    Boy, his definition of fair must be polar opposite from what you will find in a dictionary.



  3. cat fan stan
    4:19 pm April 4, 2017 Permalink

    He should know he did a terrible job. He said he’s never seen anything like this before in 28 years. Well UK has lost many tournament heartbreakers before and didn’t go after the refs after the game. What about this game made them do something they’ve never done before. Where there’s smoke there’s fire.



  4. 2thepoint
    4:43 pm April 4, 2017 Permalink

    Of course he didn’t mention the other games he has been against UK or his penchant for technicals against Calipari. I also noticed the author of the story didn’t include feedback from UK fans.



  5. turdyshmurda
    4:52 pm April 4, 2017 Permalink

    Let’s all keep giving him bad ratings. He’s turd.



  6. UKALLDAY1
    4:57 pm April 4, 2017 Permalink

    Even UNC fans have said that the officiating in that game was uneven. Jay Williams saying during the game that the refs had UNC their bracket. So many peope saw what was going and it appeared that he was doing it on purpose. Like when he waited to Isaac Humphries to come up with the lose ball before he called a foul on Derrick. Bogus over the back, bogus offensive interference on Bam. D. Fox gets ran over is in perfect position feet set and they called a block. How can a man feel like he did a good job after that horrendously called game? His family is right he needs to retire, it will make the game better. NCAA NEEDS fix this officiating issue or they will lose fans, me being one of them. Also why is his rating going back up? This is a dishonest man, BBN lets keep our foot on his throat!



  7. Bigbluedomination
    5:13 pm April 4, 2017 Permalink

    The power of BBN does not disappoint. Refs, repeatedly, get away with awful performance and are not held accountable for such performance, especially against specific teams on multiple occasions. Players and coaches are not allowed to say a darn thing about officiating and until someone brings up the issue, nothing is done about it. So, major props to the BBN for exposing what is wrong with said performances.
    Getting back to point, calling a fair game for both teams is your ultimate responsibility. I understand there is no such thing as calling a perfect game, but as a ref, you must call games consistently on both sides of the court. If you are gonna call ticky tac fouls on one team, you better call it the same way on the other team. That, by definition, is calling a fair game.
    In the UK-UNC game, multiple replays show questionable calls against UK. I won’t dwell on them, as we all have seen them on videos and media outlets. But the point of this discussion is not just this game, as it also pertains to the UK-Wisconsin game as well as the UK-UConn game, among others. So there is a pattern here. Unlike previously, we were mad and upset, but we didn’t raise awareness to the forefront. Now that we did this time, people are talking about it and rightfully so. As the saying goes, it takes leaders with backbone to bring about changes and hopefully with BBN raising awareness, it will bring changes and accountability relative to officiating.



  8. DrSayre
    5:15 pm April 4, 2017 Permalink

    This guy is obviously attention starved and is just trying to rile up the UK fans again.



    • not
      10:52 pm April 4, 2017 Permalink

      The whole article just reads like a sad attempt at sympathy and self-righteousness. You screwed up Mr. Higgins, man up and own it



  9. chris43
    5:18 pm April 4, 2017 Permalink

    Call it fair for both teams…maybe this POS should try it sometime! Smh



  10. Bigbluedomination
    5:23 pm April 4, 2017 Permalink

    To call a fair game and be professional …….. Really? , then Do IT !



  11. gottodoit
    5:48 pm April 4, 2017 Permalink

    Mr. Higgins you absolutely did not call a fair game when NC played Kentucky. A review of the tape is proof you very much favored NC.

    So please don’t hand out talk about being fair. As a matter of fact, you gave such advantage to NC that you are a significant reason they won. There remain questions about your motives.

    Yes sir, it’s time for you to quit.



  12. Lip Man 1
    5:56 pm April 4, 2017 Permalink

    You reap what you sow Mr. Higgins.



  13. BGLawdog
    6:07 pm April 4, 2017 Permalink

    I hope that I am not the only person who laughed while reading this story. I do not condone death threats, but I do find the BBN’s trolling of his business and its Facebook page to be quite comical. This asshat has earned this and I, for one, wish the NCAA would investigate this matter further, but they won’t. The NCAA got the narrative they pushed all year long…”redemption for UNC”



  14. abobicesaevior
    6:46 pm April 4, 2017 Permalink

    To mention that “his job is to be fair to both teams” tells me he knows he wasn’t fair to both teams. Kinda like a used care salesman, politician or lawyer when he says “trust me.”



  15. wan8iv
    6:59 pm April 4, 2017 Permalink

    He was worse than awful the 1st Half of that game but I gotta say he wasn’t near as bad the 2nd half. But by then he had already gifted NC a few calls that cost UK points. His history is what it is w/UK and Calipari and he shouldn’t ever work a UK game again.



  16. Mc12
    7:06 pm April 4, 2017 Permalink

    What a guy. The epitome of integrity. Almost Supermanesque. A hero to Omaha. I almost wish he was my father. Of course then I’d grow up an arrogant prick that enjoys male gang bangs, but still…I’d be a Higgins!



    • not
      10:50 pm April 4, 2017 Permalink

      Some say that Warren Buffet himself asks for John Higgins’ (the true Oracle of Omaha apparently) advice before all of his business deals since he is such a professional.



  17. Rick_S
    7:13 pm April 4, 2017 Permalink

    I hope he goes belly up with his business.He cheated lots of UK fans out of $$$..Lot of us bet on UK



  18. Skeps
    8:00 pm April 4, 2017 Permalink

    Afraid to drive around in company trucks? Lmao. Give me a break. They’re seeing Kentucky fans on every corner now



    • not
      10:48 pm April 4, 2017 Permalink

      Exactly. I mean, come on. What UK fan is gonna do something to one of his employees? Let alone in OMAHA



  19. Skeps
    8:07 pm April 4, 2017 Permalink

    At the end of that article he said “It’s a basketball game. Noone’s lives were affected. ” What about the Kentucky kids who worked hard all year to have baskets wiped out for making good plays.



    • PillsburyThrowboy
      8:10 pm April 4, 2017 Permalink

      They just get to go to the NBA a little bit sooner. This didn’t change their outcome.



    • Skeps
      8:16 pm April 4, 2017 Permalink

      They go to the NBA at the same time, win or lose.



    • not
      10:47 pm April 4, 2017 Permalink

      If that’s how he feels about his job, he really shouldn’t be a ref



  20. catsarerunnin
    8:15 pm April 4, 2017 Permalink

    I hope he didn’t miss his appointment at the hair salon for his highlights during this terrible UK fan induced snafu.



  21. WaterVerve14
    8:18 pm April 4, 2017 Permalink

    This really was horrible…but let’s call a spade a spade…he will not ever be reffing a UK game again



    • Skeps
      8:28 pm April 4, 2017 Permalink

      I hope you’re right. But if the NCAA and his peers rated his performance in the UNC/UK game as great I’d be willing to bet as long as we’re in big games we’ll see him again.



  22. thelexcat
    8:27 pm April 4, 2017 Permalink

    “his office blocked any incoming calls from Kentucky area codes.” Even after the game he missed calls.



  23. 78969812
    9:00 pm April 4, 2017 Permalink

    Rarely does one see such a blatant Homer. I wonder what UNC’s record is in games called by this joke? Like the War of 1812 and the Flood of ’37, this will forever b known as “The Homer of ’17”.



  24. mj7juice
    9:16 pm April 4, 2017 Permalink

    This guy needs to get his tail kicked. A roofer by day that thinks he’s above everyone he comes in contact with. Complete piece of garbage. He deserves to have his business go under. He clearly has no respect for anyone because we should be bowing to his accomplishments as an esteemed roofer. Lmfao. The fact that he’s an employee of the NCAA is a complete joke. His definition of fair is 80/20. UNC 80%, UK 20%. Great game Higgins you jackoff.



  25. cats42301
    9:25 pm April 4, 2017 Permalink

    I still find things fishy. I still do not see documented proof as in police reports etc. concerning the phone calls especially. All we have is Higgins word that I have seen. If all these calls from Kentucky did occur, does no one know how to block their number from being displayed or used an online company like spoofcard to manipulate their caller ID data to make it show any number and name that they want. If I were going to call a ref and make threats like this I would do whatever I could to hide my identity but apparently none of these people did. Where are the arrests of people threatening his life? If a person calls 50 times a day in an 8 hour day that equates to one call every 10.4 minutes, that’s just one person! As well all know UK has fans all across the country but in this case only people in Kentucky called and made these threats per Higgins.Lastly, I have never seen anyone state the possibility that a number of these calls were made by people that are haters of UK and coach Cal, in an attempt to get UK in trouble. That would explain the lack of people attempting to block their caller ID data. I think some investigating journalism needs to be done to determine how many of these “threats” actually existed, I’m talking the death threat variety, was it a few people making these threats over and over? Why didn’t more people attempt to hide their caller ID data or for that matter how do they know that a number of people may have used things like spoofcard to make their caller ID data show up as a Kentucky area code. I am just tired of these one sided articles. I want to see proof of what is being alleged. So far I’ve seen nothing to substantiate these phone threats other than the word of a cheating ass referee and his reps.
    .
    .



  26. not
    10:46 pm April 4, 2017 Permalink

    I’m almost always a calm peaceful guy but holy crap does this guy make me want to take a giant dump on his doorstep



  27. KY Blue Blood
    3:53 am April 5, 2017 Permalink

    Wow. Calls a fair game? Dude is such a liar he even lies to himself! Thanks to Higgins and the NCAA (which apparently really stands for the North Carolina Athletic Association due to all of the preferential treatment they receive ) for stealing one from the Big Blue. You both SUCK!!! Go Cats!!!

    #StillPissed



  28. TBW3011
    4:18 am April 5, 2017 Permalink

    I’ve never seen anything like this either John. Referring to your officiating of course.



  29. TBW3011
    4:22 am April 5, 2017 Permalink

    Oh and btw, anyone find it odd that his employees and family were worried for their and his safety and he decides the best course of action is to do an interview and stoke the fire again? This guy is a crook and an ego maniac who’s getting a kick out of the shit he intentionally initiated. Take your families advice and retire.



  30. Catphn3
    5:58 am April 5, 2017 Permalink

    His family aren’t the only ones who wishes he would retire…



  31. UKfanforlife
    6:29 am April 5, 2017 Permalink

    CBS nor ESPN will admit that the officiating was horrible and biased.



  32. secrick
    8:53 am April 5, 2017 Permalink

    I’m calling BULL SHIT on what he said . Can’t officiate and is a possible liar.



  33. SamKat83
    9:09 am April 5, 2017 Permalink

    I hope my friend I admire so much, Jim Host, can stand the criticism of the NCAA which he contributed so much to in is career.

    Higgins must epitomize today’s problems with the NCAA. Eight NCAA finals by a man of deep prejudices, particularly against our Coach Cal. Perhaps he and Bobby Knight should referee a few together. Good blockage to a probable ninth UK Championship over many of the last few seasons.

    He deserves no death threats from anybody; however, he should not pretend to earn his money as an unbiased official.



  34. ebpky
    9:26 am April 5, 2017 Permalink

    1. The guy is clearly blind and severely mentally impaired
    2. The kentucky fans who have left positive reviews and left apologizes on his google and facebook are traitors and should be shamed publicly and forced to move to Ohio….
    3. Most importantly…. He in no way shape or form should even be considered, let alone allowed, to partake next year because there is no way, especially at this point, he could be neutral. As we already know he lacks good judgment and was already clearly biased but now there is no way in hell he could provide any kind of decent referring during a KY game or the tournament for that matter.
    I hope they make the right decision and will not hire him next year….



    • ebpky
      9:28 am April 5, 2017 Permalink

      In addition, he needs to pull his head out of his vagina and stop acting like he’s the victim in all this….. we all know who the real victims are….. he’s pathetic…



  35. ebpky
    9:33 am April 5, 2017 Permalink

    He said “At the end of the day, it’s a basketball game,” he said. “It does not affect anyone’s life.”
    He clearly doesn’t comprehend his role/position nor the significance of the tournament. This shouldn’t tolerated in NCAA refs nor any refs for that matter.
    That comment is enough reason to not hire him again because clearly he doesn’t take the position as a referee seriously.



  36. Marcus Areolas
    11:38 am April 5, 2017 Permalink

    This guy cost us #9, and I’ll always feel that way.