The kind of abusive situation that has helped precipitate a shortage of high school referees was on full display Tuesday night as one prep ref squad found itself on the receiving end of a former professional football coach’s rage.

Former Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy was in attendance at his stepson’s basketball game Tuesday night in Pulaski, Wis. According to the Fox affiliate in Green Bay, McCarthy was upset after Notre Dame Academy, for whom his stepson plays, lost by a point to Pulaski High School. McCarthy reportedly chose to confront the referees after the game in a less than civil manner.  

“This parent chose to follow the officials and berate them, which is clearly unacceptable,” said Janel Batten, Pulaski’s athletic director. “Some things were said, some language was used that we don't want in our gym, unsportsmanlike language.”

A formal complaint about the matter was filed with the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association.

One of the referees, who asked to remain anonymous, confirmed the “unfortunate situation” to Fox, describing the incident as a “verbal tirade.”

Batten said that she’d never seen anything like it. “Not here and not in my time as an athletic director,” said Batten, who has been the district’s athletic director for five years.

For her part, Batten commended the officials for their handling of the situation, noting that Pulaski's policy of escorting referees in and out of the building was a help in keeping the situation from escalating.

“Without these great officials, we can't have great sports, right?” said Batten. “So that is important, so we've taken some measures in our conference, specifically at our school, we do things maybe that are a little different. We always escort these people to the court or to our stadium.”

Andy Berg is Executive Editor of Athletic Business.