Coach knocks over official in PA HS game

30 seconds left.  Tight game.  Block-charge call doesn’t go coach’s way…

and then it gets ugly.

Ref who called foul walks away from coach, who is on the floor.  It’s a stone-cold technical.  Partner does well to call the T…and then the coach knocks him over with a chest-bump.  Rather than responding with surprise or alarm, the attacker, Neshaminy coach Jerry Devine, angrily gestures over the ref on the ground.  Thankfully, the ref hops up and is clearly unhurt.

Some reactions:

#1.  There but for the grace of God go any of us.
#2.  The responsibility for this one is on the coach.  I do NOT care whether the call was right, and I do NOT care how intense and “into it” the coach is.  If you’re going to commit assault and battery in front of kids, you don’t coach again, ever, anywhere.  He has been put on administrative leave as both a coach and a teacher as the school district investigates.  I can’t see anything that would excuse what he did.
#3.  That said, I can learn from what the victim’s actions.  Calling the T was the obvious and only choice–the coach was well on the court and yelling.  But the official didn’t need to get that close to what was clearly a man who was crazy-ass angry.  I am going to assume that the official was wanting to get in between his partner and the coach, but I wonder if he would have been better off staying put, letting his partner pass him on the way to the table, and getting him back to the bench if he can, or just walking away and letting the guy either sit down or–more likely–earn a second T by running on the floor.
#4.  After the T, it looked like things could have gone south.  The original calling official appears to tell the folks from the Pennsbury bench to stay put, and then all three officials do well to get teams back to their bench areas before the 4 FTs that would follow.
#5.  So good on the guy to call the T, but don’t know that I’d get that close to angry coach as I do it.  In fact, I’ve been coached not to look at the coach as you T him/her.  And decent job getting control back.

I wish my best to the crew, especially the official who was knocked over, who will face a shitstorm here.  And I hope the official presses charges against Devine: that might do well to send messages about future attacks.

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About Paul Hamann
I am a basketball referee in Washington State, working mostly high school games.

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