Crime

Coach charged after allegedly punching referee at Kentucky basketball event. Outrage follows

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A Michigan basketball coach was arrested Saturday after allegedly punching a referee and knocking him unconscious during a youth basketball event, according to the McCracken County sheriff’s office.

The confrontation happened about 10:42 p.m. Saturday at the Sports Plex in Paducah.

Before the altercation, there was a disagreement between the referee and coach Keyon Menifield, 40, of Flint, Mich., the sheriff’s office said. The referee turned to walk away, and Menifield allegedly punched him, knocking the referee unconscious, according to the sheriff’s office. Photos showing a bruised Kenny Culp, 60, were later posted on Facebook.

Menifield fled the area and was taken into custody at a local hotel, the sheriff’s office said. He was charged with assault of a sports official, a misdemeanor.

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KaSondra Barnett, who said she was Culp’s niece, posted on Facebook that he had a broken collar bone, a crack in his sinus cavity and a concussion or bruise on his brain with bleeding. He was reportedly taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, which is in Nashville, multiple people said on Facebook.

Nation of Blue and the Courier-Journal reported that Menifield wrote on Facebook, “buddy called us a name he shouldn’t have but that doesn’t make it right for me to put my hands on him.” In the post, which has since been made private, he apologized to the victim, parents, kids, the tournament director and the referee’s family.

Amy Childers Cardwell said Culp is a friend who was officiating games to help pay for family medical bills. She said Menifield’s actions were “unacceptable and ridiculous.”

“Coaches and fans that act like this should be in jail and banned from youth sports,” Cardwell said.

Culp is also listed as a Kentucky High School Athletic Association official for multiple sports, according to KHSAA records. Its commissioner, Julian Tackett, said Menifield should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

“The heck with a misdemeanor. Throw the book at them. Absolutely ridiculous,” he said.

The nearby Hopkinsville Sportsplex announced it “will be making additional efforts during future events to ensure safety for our referees, players, coaches, staff and guests.”

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