Neshaminy High coach Jerry Devine appears to head-butt ref, is ejected

ByJeff Goodman ESPN logo
Wednesday, January 6, 2016

A Pennsylvania high school boys' basketball coach appeared to head-butt a referee and knock him to the ground late in a loss Tuesday night.

Neshaminy High's Jerry Devine, who coached Villanova senior Ryan Arcidiacono, was arguing an offensive foul call with less than a minute left in the game against Pennsbury High when he was hit with a technical. He then made contact with the referee and was ejected. Pennsbury went on to win 49-42.

Early Wednesday morning, the Neshaminy School District issued a statement.

"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.

"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."

Chris Ermer, a broadcaster who works for WBCB 1490 in Lower Bucks County, which live streamed the game, told ESPN that Pennsbury was leading by four points when the play occurred.

"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."

Ermer said Devine was ejected with his second technical and he did not see any sign of the police, other than security present for the game. However, NBC Philadelphia reported that Middletown Township Police did respond to the high school after receiving a call reporting a disturbance. Neshaminy is located about 25 miles from Philadelphia.

ESPN's calls to Devine and the Middletown Township Police were not immediately returned.

The referee was able to remain in the game, but Devine's ejection means an automatic one-game suspension in the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association, according to the Bucks County Courier Times.

In addition to coaching the boys varsity basketball team the last 10 years, Devine is a special education teacher at Neshaminy.

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