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Seven referees barricaded inside locker room following Grove City football game, report says

A police report says seven referees were barricaded inside a locker room on Sept. 10 after a vending machine was moved to block the entrance.

GROVE CITY, Ohio — High school football referees say they were blocked in a locker room after the game at Grove City High School on Sept. 10, according to a report filed with police.

The report states the school's principal reported on Sept. 13 that the vending machine at the school's recreation center was moved between the hours of 9:10 p.m. and 9:43 p.m. to in front of the girls' locker room.

Police noted in the report there is no surveillance video.

On Sept. 17, three game officials told police they were blocked in that locker room after the game.

At the end of the game, the officials said an assistant coach from the Grove City football team "charged them in a very threatening manner" and "was very combative" according to the report.

The referees said the coach had to be restrained by other coaches.

The referees then went into the girl's locker room, which was assigned to the officials, at the rec center to do a post-game review.

The three referees told police there were four other officials with them in the locker room.

When they went to leave, they found the door barricaded shut.

They said they knocked on the door for 15 to 20 minutes but no one could hear them.

One of the referees then started to open the door by force and the group was finally able to make a small gap to squeeze out of the door.

No charges have been filed.

A South-Western City School District spokesperson emailed the following statement to 10TV:

On behalf of Grove City High School and the South-Western City School District, we sincerely apologize for the locker room incident following the September 10 Grove City HS vs. Central Crossing HS football game. We do not condone this behavior and are extremely disappointed in the actions of those who perpetrated this incident and emphasize that they are not representative of the ideals or standards to which we hold our students, parents, staff, and community.

Grove City High School has apologized to the officials, OCC, and OHSAA for this incident. We have taken corrective steps to ensure that this will not happen again and that everyone will have a safe and positive experience at our athletic contests in the future.

We continue to investigate this incident and have engaged the Grove City Police Department in the investigation to determine who was responsible for this behavior. Conduct of this nature has no place in our school community."

Rick Barnes, the secretary with the Central Ohio Football Officials Association wrote in an email to 10TV:

"The event that occurred at Grove City High School is a police matter. It did bring to light concerns regarding the safety of our officials.

Our job, as the Executive Board of the COFOA is to support and encourage safe and sportsmanlike play for all athletes in all districts we serve. 

As we move forward in this season, our hope is that coaches and athletic administration work with us to provide a safe and supportive environment for not only the athletes, but also for the officials. Making the games safe for all involved is our top priority."

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