The NBL’s Single Member Tribunal heard the charge against Tony Mitchell of the Cairns Taipans on Friday morning, with Tribunal Chairperson Tony Nolan QC issuing a full season suspension after the player was found guilty of Striking a Referee with the game ball.
Following the conclusion of the Swisse NBL Finals game between the Perth Wildcats and Cairns Taipans at Perth Arena, Mitchell took the ball from the opposition player’s hands and proceeded to throw the ball at referee Vaughan Mayberry.
Mitchell did not attend the Tribunal hearing although the Cairns Taipans were present for proceedings.
Mr Nolan found that the act was deliberate, with the player taking time to shake the hands of opponents before throwing the ball at the referee with no apology offered for the action.
While the report from the Referee stated that the force was not significant enough to cause injury, and there was not an intention to hurt the referee, the action alone was severe enough to be met with severe penalties.
“Whether it be at the lowest level or the NBL and NBA at the professional level referees must be protected. Any intentional physical contact with officials will not be tolerated” concluded Mr Nolan.
The penalty which is a suspension for a full NBL season is effective immediately and will conclude on 23 February, 2018.
As an additional requirement, Mr Nolan also directed that the information regarding the penalty be provided to Basketball Australia, FIBA and the NBA. What those bodies do with the information is at their discretion.