NESHAMINY, Pa. – A Pennsylvania high school varsity basketball coach is under investigation after he was caught on video knocking a referee to the floor during a game in Middletown Tuesday.
The Neshaminy School District suspended boys basketball coach Jerry Devine Wednesday morning while officials review an incident involving the head coach and a referee at the team’s game against Pennsbury High School yesterday.
After the referee called a Neshaminy player for charging as he put in a layup that would have made it a 3-point game with less than 30 seconds remaining, Devine is seen charging the referee before leaning into him and sending him to the ground, the City of Basketball Love blog reports.
From one angle, it appears Devine headbutted the ref, but from another video it seems Divine bumped the man with his chest or belly, according to a WBCB broadcast.
“From my vantage point, it looked more like a chest bump or a belly bump that just caught the ref off-guard,” commentator Chris Ermer said. “And after making contact with the official, coach Devine almost indicated by giving a sweeping motion with his hand that he thought the ref had flopped, that he thought the contact wasn’t enough to send the man to the floor.”
Initially, Ermer and fellow commentator Vince Reed seemed to think the incident was an accident, but later changed their minds after closer review.
“No, because he made contact with an official, and I don’t think that’s ever really excusable,” Ermer said. “Sometimes those opinions are not always expressed on a broadcast for me, but I don’t think there’s ever a place where officials should feel like they’re intimidated or contact you, it’s certainly an intentional, physical contact, which is totally inappropriate.”
Ermer elaborated for ESPN.
“The coach went crazy,” Ermer said. “He came out and made contact with the official and took him off his feet. He was indicating with his body language that he didn’t mean to do it.
“I think he intended to get in the guy’s chest,” Ermer added. “But as he did it, he was off balance and went down. You can’t say he didn’t intend to make contact, but I don’t think he was trying to head-butt the ref.”
Devine was ejected from the game and Pennsbury went on to win 49-42.
District officials issued a statement about the incident Wednesday, according to ESPN.
“The administration at Neshaminy School District is conducting a thorough review of an incident at the varsity basketball game Tuesday evening (January 5, 2016) involving coach Jerry Devine and a referee. Appropriate action was taken at the game following that incident, and further measures may follow depending on the outcome of that review. As this is a personnel matter, we will not be able to comment on the specifics of any possible disciplinary action until that review process is complete,” the statement read.
“Mr. Devine has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of that review for both his teaching and coaching positions. The athletic program at Neshaminy places the values of fair play and sportsmanlike conduct above all. We expect our coaches and staff to teach and uphold those principles, while acting in a professional manner at all times.”
Devine, who is also a special education “emotional support” teacher, has coached the varsity basketball team for 10 years. Per Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association rules, Devine must serve an automatic one-game suspension because of the ejection.
Neshaminy is scheduled to play at Pennridge tonight.