The president and founder of the National Association of Sports Officials strongly condemned a Pennsylvania high school basketball coach who appeared to head butt an official, knocking him to the ground while protesting a controversial call late in a game Tuesday night.
Neshaminy (Langhorne, Pa.) coach Jerry Devine was placed on administrative leave Wednesday morning by the school district while it investigates the incident from Neshaminy’s loss to Pennsbury. Devine had not spoken publicly about the incident.
“You don’t get to do that because you’re unhappy with calls in a game you are getting ready to lose,” Barry Mano told USA TODAY High School Sports. “You don’t get to come out on the floor and charge an official. It’s not permitted.
“We’re not going to accept this behavior. That could have been the worst call in the world. I don’t care. That’s not the point. You don’t get to violate the private space of a referee and then turn around and blow him off by waving your arm. How dare you? And if you want to go to court and fight about it, we will be happy to do that.”
The Middletown Township Police is investigating and the PIAA, the state’s athletic association, is monitoring the situation.
“I’ve seen the video. I don’t understand why there’s a debate about whether there was a head butt,” Mano said. “I don’t really care where he hit him, the head, the arm, the knee, the butt. Physical contact was made, and the coach was glad about it because he turned and blew him off with an arm wave.”
Mano said NASO will provide support for the official as needed.
“Hopefully, the referee is not injured in any substantial way,” Mano said. “He can bring an assault claim if he wants to bring an assault claim. If is he is a NASO, we will give him our support in a number of ways, including an attorney if he wants one.”