High-ranking Tennessee Republican apologizes after apparent attempt to ‘pants’ ref

A high-ranking Tennessee Republican lawmaker has apologized after he was ejected from a high school basketball game after a confrontation with a referee. The dustup included what appeared to be a failed attempt at pulling down the official’s pants, according to video footage.

On Tuesday, Jeremy Faison, a Republican member of the Tennessee House of Representatives, posted on Twitter that he “acted the fool tonight and lost my temper on a ref.”

Faison added that: “I was wanting him to fight me. Totally lost my junk and got booted from the gym. I’ve never really lost my temper but I did tonight and it was completely stupid of me.

“Emotions getting in the way of rational thoughts are never good. I hope to be able to find the ref and ask for his forgiveness. I was bad wrong.”

Providence Academy livestreamed their game on Tuesday against Lakeway Christian Academy. Faison’s son is on the Lakeway team.

The video feed shows Faison sitting in the stands before players hit the ground on a loose ball in the third quarter, spurring the referee’s whistle and a brief scuffle between the two teams.

According to a report provided by the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association, Faison entered the court and was told by a referee to leave. According to the report, Faison then pointed a finger at the referee’s face and said: “You can’t tell me to leave the floor this was your fault.” Faison then grabbed the referee’s pants and tugged down on them, the report says. The referee’s pants stayed up and Faison subsequently walked away.

Since 2019, Faison has been the House caucus chairman for Republicans, who have supermajorities in both legislative chambers. The GOP caucus chairman is among the most influential position in the House.

In his apology, Faison wrote that “for years” he has thought it is wrong for parents to lose their temper at sporting events, saying it is “not Christian and it’s not mature and it’s embarrassing to the child.”

News of Faison’s actions quickly sparked criticism. “‘Pantsing’ a ref on the gym floor is next level bullying.not even the stuff of middle school locker rooms,” Gloria Johnson, a Knoxville Democrat, tweeted on Wednesday.