Refs got threatening calls after Kentucky's Music City Bowl loss to Northwestern

By Scooby Axson
January 17, 2018

Pac-12 officials who worked the Music City Bowl contest between Kentucky and Northwestern have been the subject of harassment and threats by Kentucky fans.

One of the plays that got fans riled up was when lead official Chris Coyte ejected Kentucky running back Benny Snell after he made contact with him in the second quarter.

Kentucky went on to lose the game 24–23.

According to, Coyte received threatening calls to his cell and office phone, as well as call placed to a commercial real estate association he belongs to.

A letter dated Jan. 5 from Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart to David Coleman, Pac-12's vice president of officials, was published last week by the Lexington Herald-Leader.

The letter blasted Coyte and his crew for the way the game was officiated.

Barnhart was also upset following a hit on Kentucky quarterback Stephen Johnson and said that Coyte "seemed to have no care for our injured player or willingness to allow our team a few moments to prepare a substitute quarterback to replace him, which is normal protocol in such a situation."

"The intent of the no-contact rule - protection of the officials - was not adhered to in this case," Barnhart wrote. "Video of the incident does not support the call made on the field or the statement made by the officiating crew postgame and later supported by the Pac-12. Moreover, the character and intent of a quality young man in our program have been unfairly called into question as a result."

It is not the first time Kentucky fans have let their feelings be known about what they feel is bad officiating.

Basketball referee John Higgins was also threatened by Kentucky fans after the Wildcats were beaten by North Carolina in the NCAA Tournament's Elite Eight last March.

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