Referee alleges assault during Northwest High School basketball game

Published: Feb. 23, 2021 at 10:11 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A disturbing incident in an Omaha high school gym involving a player and referee is caught on camera.

A 44-year-old referee alleges being shoved to the floor during a game wasn’t an incidental contact by a Northwest High School player. It happened on February 13 when the Huskies hosted Lincoln Southwest.

The incident during a JV game at Northwest has gone beyond the basketball court, the referee has filed a police report alleging assault.

The player is a juvenile so they can’t be publically identified. An Omaha officer who viewed the game states it appears the student took a path into the referee purposefully.

The referee who was shoved from behind as he ran down the court hit a sideline chair which left him a sore neck and abrasions to his right knee and elbow.

Bob Franzese, Omaha Sports Academy said, “Probably not qualified to say if intentional or not intentional but not a great look.”

Franzese operates Omaha Sports Academy which hires dozens of refs to officiate 300 games a weekend. He didn’t witness the incident but has seen the video.

“When you have parents and players who are vested sometimes emotions get the best of them but it doesn’t excuse that, you can’t abuse officials in any way shape, or form,” said Franzese.

Bob says the number of sports referees and officials has dropped 30%. He hopes one incident caught on video doesn’t discourage more to quit or never pick up a whistle.

“There is a referee shortage and incidents like this certainly don’t help at all,” said Franzese.

The police report has been referred to juvenile court. Due to privacy rules, Omaha Public Schools can’t comment except to say the matter is taken seriously and staff addressed the situation following the student code of conduct.

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