UPDATE 2/6/2016: Kevin Willard says Thomas’ “best friend” passed away on Monday. Thomas was not present at the game Saturday against Georgetown, as he was attending his friends funeral. Willard did not specify on the cause of death.
Jevon Thomas, a guard on the Seton Hall men’s basketball team, was allegedly at the center of an altercation in the Richie Regan Recreation Center on Thursday night.
Multiple witnesses said they saw Thomas choking Kevin Matthews, a graduate assistant working in the campus’ recreation center as an intramural basketball referee. The incident began after Thomas took issue with a call Matthews made in the game he was reffing. Thomas was not playing in the game. The South Orange Police Department and paramedics were called to the scene where Seton Hall assistant coaches also eventually showed up. Matthews was left with red marks around his neck, but no serious injuries.
Kirk Schwindel of the SOPD told The Setonian that charges have not been filed. Captain Kyle Kroll told Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press the same thing, but did not mention specific names.
“The referee made a foul call, and a student who was not playing but was there spectating took issue with the call and they started having words and there was a brief struggle,” Kroll told Carino. “He started to assault (the referee) in a simple assault manner and then he was escorted from the premises. He was not on scene when the police arrived. The victim does not want to pursue criminal charges against him. There were no serious injuries and the university is handling it through their administrative process.”
Due to the on-going investigation, a police report was not made available.
Alex Washington, a student playing in the intramural game, saw the incident unfold.
“All I saw was the two of them arguing when our opponents were supposed to be taking a free throw,” Washington said. “They continued to argue and then Kevin kind of told him (Thomas) to leave but he wouldn’t. And Kevin didn’t push him but like put his hands on (Thomas’) chest to move him back. And J.T. (Thomas) shoved him (Matthews). That’s when everyone came and separated them. I thought everything was going to be fine then. But a few moments later the dude J.T. was choking him with two hands from behind the backboard too close to the glass by the weight room.”
Washington said that the two started arguing over a foul call that Matthews made in the game. He added that “a lot of people” needed to break the two up.
“I was surprised that it lasted as long as it did and no authority figure was able to calm it down,” Washington said. “I did see the Public Safety guy come in soon after.”
Zach Lucca, another student playing in the game, said that Ismael Sanogo, another member of the men’s basketball team, tried pushing Thomas away from Matthews.
“Those were the only kids on the team that were there,” Lucca said.
Seton Hall University did not address the situation directly in a statement.
“The University does not comment on individual student situations,” the school said. “However, any allegation of student misconduct is immediately referred to the Dean of Students Office for investigation and adjudication.”
The school did not elaborate beyond that when asked for further comment.
Thomas, who transferred from Kansas State University prior to the season, has not been eligible to play for the Pirates this year. He has two years of eligibility left.
Matthews did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Check back for more information as this story develops and follow @Setonian and @SetonianSports on Twitter for updates.
Editor’s note: Dennis Chambers (firstname.lastname@example.org), David Heim (email@example.com), Olivia Mulvihill (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Gary Phillips (email@example.com) all contributed to this report.