Omaha, Neb. — Referee John Higgins of Omaha reported he received death threats after Kentucky’s loss to North Carolina in the NCAA Tournament, a Nebraska law enforcement official said Wednesday.
Higgins’ roofing company received about 3,000 harassing emails and an unknown number of phone calls, some including death threats, said Capt. Kevin Griger, investigations commander for the Sarpy County Sheriff’s Department.
North Carolina defeated Kentucky 75-73 on Sunday to advance to the Final Four, winning on Luke Maye’s last-second shot.
Kentucky coach John Calipari opened his news conference with a comment about foul calls, complaining about freshmen stars Bam Adebayo, De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk each picking up two fouls in the first half.
“You know, it’s amazing that we were in that game where they practically fouled out my team. Amazing that we had a chance,” Calipari said.
Calipari on Wednesday tried to calm the fan reaction on Twitter.
“I always brag that we have the classiest fans in the country,” Calipari said.
“Let’s make sure we remain that way even after a tough loss.”
The Facebook page for Higgins’ roofing company also was inundated with negative comments about Higgins and the quality of his company’s work.
Griger described it as an orchestrated effort to “run down his Better Business Bureau rating.”
Higgins reportedly spoke with Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer about death threats he received on his home phone, which has an unlisted number.
Higgins’ home is in Omaha, in Douglas County, and his roofing company’s office is in neighboring Sarpy County.
Omaha police spokesman Michael Pecha said officers are providing extra attention to Higgins’ residence.
Dan Gavitt, the NCAA’s senior vice president of basketball, said Higgins is still scheduled to work one of the games in the Final Four in Glendale, Arizona, on Saturday.
Higgins will be working his eighth Final Four.
Georgia Tech and Texas Christian will meet for the NIT title tonight at Madison Square Garden.
... Maryland junior guard Melo Trimble is forgoing his final year of eligibility to enter the NBA draft and will sign with an agent.
... Miami (Ohio) hired Purdue assistant Jack Owens as its men’s basketball coach.
The RedHawks fired John Cooper on March 10 after they went 11-21.
... Women’s basketball saw its lowest attendance for the NCAA Tournament regionals in 20 years.
An average of 4,719 fans showed up for the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight games in the four neutral-site venues.
That’s down 27 percent from last year and nearly 50 percent from 2014, when the games were played on campus sites.