John Higgins is suing a Kentucky media company for sharing his personal and business contact information online and on the radio, leading to death threats last March.
The NCAA basketball official was threatened by at least seven people following an NCAA Tournament game involving the University of Kentucky.
The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in a U.S. District Court in Nebraska and first obtained by The Athletic, alleges intentional infliction of emotional distress, invasion of privacy, tortious interference with a business and civil conspiracy. The suit cites Kentucky Sports Radio, and its operators Matt Jones and Drew Franklin, accusing the media outlet of inflicting harm on his family and an Omaha-based roofing company.
Seven people who made threats against Higgins following Kentucky’s 75-73 loss to North Carolina in the South Region final on March 26 were identified in May.
With Higgins a part of the officiating crew, Kentucky players were called for 19 fouls and four Kentucky starters were called for two fouls apiece in the first half. The Tar Heels were called for 18 fouls, but Wildcats fans were still upset by the calls made by Higgins, and his company’s Facebook page was bombarded with threats and negative reviews.
The suit also claims Higgins’ company received over “3,000 phone calls during the two days after the game, of which approximately 75 percent were from Kentucky area codes.”
Jones, who referred to the officiating in the UNC game as “putrid” and specifically named Higgins, called the lawsuit frivolous and without merit.