High school football referees arrested during game
A Louisiana high school football game was delayed Friday night when two game officials were arrested after a confrontation with police. The police report alleges the referee attempted to throw an officer out of the stadium.
Head referee Jim Radcliffe and linesman Chris Gambino were arrested by a Covington police officer for public intimidation during the third quarter of Mandeville’s game at St. Paul’s.
St. Paul’s athletic director Craig Ketelsen said Saturday that Gambino was repeatedly attempting to move Mandeville fans away from the field’s sideline and interfering with the chain crew, but the Covington police officer on the sideline told him to pay attention to the game. Ketelsen said the situation intensified from there, with the officer arresting Gambino and Radcliffe.
Here’s a short video that includes the officials being escorted off the field by police:
From the New Orleans Times-Picayune:
With almost seven minutes remaining in the third quarter, action on the field was halted as Radcliffe went to the sideline to help Gambino, and words were exchanged with the police officer. Within a minute, both officials had been arrested, charged with public intimidation, escorted off the field and later booked into the St. Tammany Parish Jail.
“It is my understanding the issue that precipitated the whole thing was that the linesman and the chain crew were working together to try and remain separate from some of the Mandeville fans that had come forward,” Ketelsen said.
Capt. Jack West of the Covington Police Department said Saturday his officer’s report on the incident that led to the arrests was corroborated by 10 witnesses standing on the sideline.
WWL-TV reports the referee tried to toss the police officer out of the game:
“Well, a referee asked a police officer to move some people back. The police officer moved them back. Another referee came up to the police officer and told him, ‘that’s not far enough.’ The police officer explained….would you please handle the game, referee the game, and we will handle the crowd for you. The second referee told the police officer, nose-to-nose with the police officer, ‘you’re out of the game…get outta here.’ And the police officer said, ‘excuse me sir, just referee the game, and we’ll handle the crowd.’ And he says ‘no, get out. Get out now.’
Play was delayed for more than 20 minutes as the remaining officials and both schools discussed continuing the game. A reduced crew of officials finished the game won St. Paul’s, 20-3.
The officials will continue to work games this season. Bryan Greenwood, the head of the Louisiana High School Officials Association, said the pair are “very well respected.”
“They absolutely will continue to work with us,” Greenwood said. “They have done nothing wrong, and it is not going to affect them with our organization in any way.”