Neshaminy Coach Suspended After Apparently Hitting Ref

"Appropriate action was taken at the game … and further measures may follow depending on the outcome of that review," says a Neshaminy district spokesman.

Neshaminy boys’ basketball coach Jerry Devine is on administrative leave after knocking down a referee during last night’s game against Pennsbury.

The video, embedded above via WBCB, shows Devine rushing on to the court to scream at a referee after a foul. Devine ends up arguing with a different referee than the one who made the disputed offensive foul call, and knocks him to the ground with what appears to be a shoulder or chest bump. On an earlier video, posted by City of Basketball Love (and embedded below), the action looked more like a headbutt.

Whatever type of contact happened, observers thought it crossed a line. “He made contact with an official,” WBCB color commentator Chris Ermer told CoBL, “and I don’t think that’s ever really excusable.” Ermer said to him it seemed “more like a chest bump or a belly bump that just caught the ref off-guard.”

The Neshaminy School District released a statement to the press confirming Devine’s leave. “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,” spokesman Chris Stanley said in the release. “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 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 has also been placed on leave from his Neshaminy H.S. teaching job.

The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association regulates most high schools in the state. A PIAA spokeswoman told The Sporting News the organization has the power to suspend Devine from anywhere to a game or a lifetime ban. For the ejection, Devine automatically receives a one-game ban.

“The coach is minimally disqualified from the next game and the school has been notified to report what additional corrective actions and penalties they will take in regard to this unacceptable act,” the PIAA said in a statement. “The safety of players, officials and team personnel is our highest priority. Actions such as this will not be tolerated. We will monitor this situation to ensure safety of all participants.”

Pennsbury beat Neshaminy, 49-42.

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