Police: MSU trustee Lyons pushed referee after basketball game

LANSING, MICH. - A misdemeanor assault charge against a Michigan State University trustee stemmed from a dispute over a referee's calls during a girls' basketball tournament near Jackson, according to a police report of the incident.

A referee told police that Mitch Lyons, who was coaching one of the teams, pushed him twice after a game in early December, the report indicates.

Lyons faces an assault and battery charge in connection with the incident. He denies the allegations, his attorney said Thursday.

"We have identified numerous witnesses who refute the alleged victim's account of the events," said the attorney, Brian Lennon, who had previously characterized the situation as a misunderstanding. Lennon said he hopes the case will be dismissed.

Michigan State Police released a redacted version of its report on the Dec. 3 incident at Grass Lake Middle School in response to a public records request by the State Journal.

The referee, whose name was redacted from the report, told a trooper he "had to make a couple of calls that caused one team to lose," then called two technical fouls because of a verbal dispute that followed.

After the game, the referee said, he was putting on his jacket to leave when a coach confronted him and pushed him twice in the chest with his hands. Other witnesses identified that coach as Lyons, the report said.


One witness said he saw Lyons either push the referee or "was trying to show him what his player was doing during the game and touched him unintentionally," it said.

Another witness said she stood between Lyons and the referee while they were talking and did not see Lyons push the referee, according to the report.

Lyons had left the building by the time police arrived, and the trooper was unable to reach him by phone, resulting in the arrest warrant being issued, the report indicates.

A pre-trial hearing is set for Feb. 12 in Jackson County District Court.

Lyons, 47, is a Grand Rapids businessman who played seven years in the NFL. He played football at MSU and has a business administration degree from there.

Lyons has been on the university's governing board since Jan. 1, 2011. He has said he will not seek another term on the board when his current term expires at the end of this year.

Contact Ken Palmer at (517) 377-1032 or kpalmer@lsj.com. Follow him on Twitter @KBPalm_lsj.

© 2018 WZZM-TV


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