Samford coach and Kentucky great Scott Padgett questioned a referee’s conduct Thursday night after a heated on-court confrontation.
“’Are you stepping to me, right now?’” Padgett said of his question to official Karl Hess after Hess got in his face during a timeout in Samford’s game against East Tennessee State. “That’s what I think’s hilarious. ... It’s not the real world out there because a guy like that is stepping to me is not realistic.
“If we’re out on the street he’s running away just if he sees me walking by. I’m 6-9, probably 280 right now. Not a lot of people step to me. I think it was kind of an unprofessional move.”
Video of the dust-up posted on Twitter showed Hess turn suddenly toward Padgett during a timeout and stride directly into his personal space. Samford was losing 69-65 with less than two minutes to go, and, apparently, Padgett had been critical of the officiating to that point.
Hess has a reputation for controversial calls and was fired by the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2015 after being accused of using a racial slur in an exchange with a wealthy Wake Forest fan and former Deacons’ Board of Trustees chairman.
Padgett was part of Coach Tubby Smith’s national title-winning Kentucky team in 1998 and went on to play in the NBA for nine years. He was an assistant coach for three teams, including Kentucky under John Calipari, before taking the Samford head coaching position in 2014.
In his fifth season, Padgett is off to an 11-5 start with the Bulldogs. Padgett’s career record is 68-81. He led them to the CollegeInsider.com Tournament in 2017.
Samford lost Thursday’s game 81-72.