Last week, we told you about the March Madness ref who was targeted for online abuse from bitter Kentucky Wildcats fans.
Now John Higgins, who’s still getting vitriol, has opened up about the ordeal.
Here’s what happened: After refereeing a game in the NCAA tournament, Higgins was reportedly sent death threats. But the strangest part of the story was the Facebook page for his Nebraska roofing company being inundated with negative reviews from Kentucky fans mad about how he officiated a college basketball game.
“Nobody has ever seen anything like this,” Higgins told the Omaha World-Herald in a story published this week. “This is crazy.”
It’s not unusual for college basketball referees to also have regular jobs, which explains Higgins’ roofing company, That company has a Facebook page, which is where dozens and dozens of Kentucky fans directed their anger after Higgins officiated a national quarterfinal game in which the Wildcats narrowly lost to eventual champion North Carolina.
“John Higgins lacks integrity!” wrote one commenter on the John Higgins Weatherguard Inc. Facebook page after that game.
“If you cheat and knowingly lie on one job, your reputation comes in question for all your jobs,” wrote another. “Let’s hope this bankrupts you, an honest wage for an host days work and all.”
Higgins tells the World-Herald that a deluge of bogus one-star reviews from Kentucky fans dropped the page’s rating from 4.8 stars (out of 5), to just 1.2. Good Samaritans have since countered those negative reviews with positive ones to bring the page’s rating back up to 3.0, but damage has already been done.
The World-Herald reports Higgins was barely able to work last week while trying to manage the fallout. Kentucky fans reportedly also called his business repeatedly to jam its phone lines he’s since blocked numbers with Kentucky area codes.
“At the end of the day, its a basketball game,” Higgins tells the paper. “It does not affect anyones life.”
(To which one relentless Kentucky fan in the World-Herald article’s comments replied: “It doesn’t effect anyone’s life? You’re a disgrace John Higgins.” We’re not joking. That actually happened.)
Kentucky coach John Calipari indirectly addressed what Higgins has been going through in a two-tweet message to Wildcats fans last week.
I always brag that we have the classiest fans in the country. Let’s make sure we remain that way even after a tough loss.
John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) March 29, 2017
Understandably, however, this doesn’t sound like an ordeal Higgins will forget anytime soon.
“You lose a little faith in people,” he told the World-Herald.