NewsCovering Kentucky


Judge Tosses Referee’s Suit Against Kentucky Sports Radio, Matt Jones Over Threats

Posted at 12:04 PM, Mar 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-20 12:04:05-04
FILE – In this March 26, 2017, file photo, Kentucky head coach John Calipari argues a call with referee John Higgins in the first half of the South Regional final game against North Carolina in the NCAA college basketball tournament in Memphis, Tenn. Seven people who threatened Higgins after an NCAA Tournament game in March have been identified. Information on them will be referred to authorities in their jurisdictions and to the FBI’s Omaha field office, a Nebraska prosecutor said Friday, May 26. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)

(LEX 18) — A judge has tossed a college basketball referee’s lawsuit against Kentucky Sports Radio, Matt Jones and Drew Franklin over death threats.

John Higgins sued KSR, saying he received death threats and that his company’s Facebook page was slammed with negative reviews after he reffed a 2017 Elite Eight game in which the University of Kentucky men’s basketball team lost to North Carolina.

Higgins claimed that KSR egged on the criticism.

In a memorandum released Wednesday, Joseph M. Hood, senior U.S. judge for the Eastern District of Kentucky, rejected Higgins claims “with prejudice,” meaning it cannot be brought again.

Hood found that the criticism of Higgins on KSR was protected by the First Amendment.

“The speech enjoys special protection and the First Amendment prevents the Plaintiffs from using tort actions to silence and punish the Defendants for engaging in protected speech,” he wrote.

Higgins initially filed the suit in his home state of Nebraska, but a judge ruled the Higgins’ home state did not have proper jurisdiction for the suit and it was moved to the Eastern District of Kentucky.