LANSING, Mich. — A Michigan State University trustee has been charged with assault following a dispute over a referee’s calls during a girls’ basketball tournament.
Mitch Lyons, 47, was coaching one of the teams when he allegedly pushed a referee after a December game at Grass Lake Middle School. Lyons faces a misdemeanor charge of assault and battery, the Lansing State Journal reported .
Lyons denies the allegations, said Brian Lennon, his attorney. Lennon said he hopes the case will be dismissed.
“We have identified numerous witnesses who refute the alleged victim’s account of the events,” Lennon said.
The referee told police that he had to make a couple calls that caused one team to lose and then issued two technical fouls following a verbal dispute. The referee said that an unidentified coach confronted him after the game and twice pushed him in the chest with his hands.
Lyons either pushed the referee or was attempting to illustrate what one of his players was doing during the game, one witness told Michigan State Police. Another witness told police she was standing near the two men and didn’t see Lyons push the referee.
A court hearing is set for Feb. 12 in Jackson County District Court.
Lyons played football from 1988 to 1992 at Michigan State. He spent seven years in the NFL with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Atlanta Falcons. Lyons has been a university trustee since 2011 and said doesn’t plan to seek another term when his current term expires at the end of the year.
Lyons last month was the only member of the Michigan State trustees to publicly call for university President Lou Anna Simon to step down before she resigned over the handling of the sex assault scandal involving former university sports doctor Larry Nassar.
Information from: Lansing State Journal, http://www.lansingstatejournal.com