clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Remember That Whole BBN vs. John Higgins Mess From 2017?

It had an interesting resolution

VCU v George Washington
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 4: Referee John Higgins looks on during the BBT College Basketball Classic between the George Washington Colonials and the VCU Rams on December 4, 2011 at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC. The Rams won 75-60.
Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Some of you may remember the aftermath of the 2017 UNC-UK game in the 2017 NCAA tournament when furious Kentucky fans went after official John Higgins and tried to ruin his roofing business in Omaha, Nebraska.

You may also remember that he filed suit against Kentucky Sports Report, alleging that KSR basically egged the mob on.

Most of us probably lost track of the story after that, but it got interesting.

The case was dismissed on First Amendment grounds, which seems appropriate. However, the actual opinion is interesting in a lot of ways.

First, Judge Joseph M. Hood lists a lot of what Kentucky fans did to hurt Higgins’ business, and some of it is really startling. Take a look at this excerpt:

“In another episode that evening, Jones had a guest. He asked his guest whether ‘Kentucky fans need to calm down.’ Id. at 10. His guest laughed and said ‘[t]his is despicable’ and that ‘[w]e should not act this way’ before adding in a quieter voice ‘I love it.’ Id. His guest followed up by stating that ‘what I want you to do is stop this irresponsible behavior’ before whispering ‘please keep it up.’ Id. Jones chuckled at each line. He wondered whether it was ‘okay to post one-star reviews,’ id., and his guest answered by saying they had ‘made [their] point’ and suggested they move on, id. at 11.”

It is free speech, according to Judge Hood, but it’s also basically inciting BBN to do bad things, which is really pretty disgusting, given the volatile nature of that particular fan base. Haha, you disappointed us so we’ll destroy your business in return. What a bunch of nutty fans.

The best thing would have been for all officials to simply refuse to work Kentucky games until John Calipari and the university issued formal apologies and addressed the awful behavior of the fan base.

What UK fans did - encouraged by Calipari’s press conference comments and more so by Kentucky Sports Radio - caused real damage to Higgins’s business. No wonder he was pissed enough to sue.

UNC went on to win the 2017 national championship, which was too bad from a Duke point of view. But at least the Kentucky fan base got what it deserved: the Wildcats got back to the Elite Eight in 2018-19, but since then, have only one win in the tournament.

They can’t blame it all on the officials.