Virginia High School Basketball Coach Goes into the Stands and Attacks Heckler
Virginia’s Richlands high school girls’ basketball coach Tom Rife is under investigation after an altercation with a spectator during a recent game.
The game occurred at Richlands Middle School gymnasium and was part of the Lady Blue Tornado’s Region 2D girl’s basketball tournament.
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Rife was captured on video jumping over the team’s bench and confronting a male spectator during the final seconds of his team’s 54-51 loss to Wise Central. The incident occurred during a stoppage of play in the last seconds.
With eight seconds remaining in the game, Rife called a timeout. As his team gathered near the bench, the spectator started yelling at and pointing at Rife, and then he turned around, climbed up and over a chair into the stands, and went after the spectator in the front row.
In videos from the incident, which circulated on social media, Rife appeared angry while repeatedly shoving the man in a white shirt.
The heckler didn’t move from Rife’s grasp or strike back and appeared stunned as several people pulled the coach away.
At one point, Rife waved his arm to summon security. The coach and spectator seemingly exchanged words before multiple people, including a male security guard, who eventually intervened and separated the two.
In Virginia, Richlands High School girls coach Tom Rife goes behind the bench to confront a man in the Blue Tornado's 54-51 loss to Wise Central on Thursday night. pic.twitter.com/0ADW3IYG0g
— Chad Baker (@ChadBlue83) February 26, 2023
Good ole boy network fired coach who was amazing & had the emotional intelligence to control themselves to the bare minimum we expect of our student athletes, & replaced him with this. Our girls deserve better. I expect the immediate termination of head coach Tom Rife. pic.twitter.com/dBpZAkRLms
— @TheFearlessQueen (@QueenOfManLand) February 24, 2023
Video footage shows a security guard approach the two and separate them. Rife and the heckler were escorted to opposite ends of the court. It’s unclear if they were removed from the game.
Tazewell County Public Schools has launched an investigation into the incident.
“We are aware of the incident at the RHS girls’ basketball game, and while we do not condone any misconduct from our coaches or spectators at this time, we are still investigating the actions of all parties involved,” Superintendent Dr. Christopher Stacy said in a statement on Friday.
According to the Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Superintendent Christopher Stacy will conduct the investigation, Deputy Superintendent Diedra Hill, Richlands High School Principal Rickie Vencill, and Richlands Athletic Director Frank Daugherty.
Rife, who once coached boys’ and girls’ basketball at Richlands, also served as the school’s athletic director. He returned to coach the girl’s team after the last coach, Aaron Lowe, was let go last August after seven seasons.
In his first year as girl’s coach, the team had a 22-2 record, the best finish since 2013.
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Further details are unclear currently. The reason for Rife’s attack is unknown, as are what words were exchanged and whether the spectator instigated the incident.
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