BATON ROUGE, LA (Oct. 17, 2013) — The Louisiana High School Athletic Association (LHSAA) was pleased to learn that Covington Mayor Mike Cooper and Covington Police Chief Tim Lentz announced this afternoon that they will request the District Attorney to drop the charges of public intimidation against high school officials James Radcliffe and Chris Gambino.
These two dedicated football officials were arrested Friday night, October 11, 2013, during the football game between Mandeville and St. Paul’s, at St. Paul’s. The officials were charged with public intimidation and released from jail on Saturday morning after posting bail. The incident was the result of spectators on the sideline crowding the chain crew and the officials attempted to move the spectators away from the field. When the officials requested the help of a uniformed Covington police officer to control the crowd, they were arrested.
Louisiana High School Athletic Association rules, as well as National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) rules, authorize the game officials to address off-the-field spectator problems which interfere with the orderly process of a contest. This rule is designed to provide for the safety of all involved: the contestants, the coaches, the officials, and the spectators to ensure fair play.
In response to the question regarding the actions of the officials, Keith Alexander, LHSAA Assistant Executive Director and Director of Officials, states, “The officials were acting by rule in maintaining the integrity of the game. By rule, the officials have the authority to rule promptly and in the spirit of good sportsmanship on any situation during the contest. The referee’s decisions are final in all matters pertaining to the game. In this case, the officials were totally correct in the administration of the rule.”
These officials were attempting to enforce the rules of the game and protect the safety of the persons present. The LHSAA supports these officials and their actions.
LHSAA Executive Director Kenny Henderson responded to the announcement that the charges would be dropped by stating, “The LHSAA is pleased to learn of the quick and decisive action by the City of Covington officials in requesting the dismissal of these charges. The LHSAA is proud to have officials such as Jim Radcliffe and Chris Gambino who serve the youth of our great state. It is unfortunate that these experienced officials had to endure the events of the last week. However, being the truly dedicated persons that they are, they will continue to serve the youth by continuing to officiate high school sports and for that we are grateful. I also wish to thank the Mayor and Chief of Police of Covington for their swift and honest appraisal of the events.”
The Louisiana High School Athletic Association is dedicated to the safe and fair competition among our member schools. We will continue to require our game officials in every sport to place the safety of all involved in any contest at the forefront of their duties. The LHSAA is very fortunate to have dedicated men and women as game officials whose goal is to ensure safe and fair competition.