Official who pushed Muskegon coach faces assault charge

Muskegon County

MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — Prosecutors have issued an assault charge against a high school basketball official who pushed the Muskegon coach.

The Muskegon County Prosecutor’s Office said Wednesday that it has authorized a misdemeanor charge of assault and battery against William Ripple, 69, for pushing Keith Guy on Friday.

“I stopped thinking about the game of basketball for the first time in my career. I just didn’t, I didn’t really finish that game mentally,” Guy said. “The game became not important. I just started thinking about the things that are and I was pretty much outraged.”

With only 25 seconds left on the clock, the Muskegon Big Reds trailed undefeated Zeeland East by merely three points.

That’s when it happened.

Video taken by M7 Sports, which follows Muskegon-area sports, shows the official put his hands on Guy’s chest and push him away during the game between Muskegon and Zeeland East. Guy is the head basketball coach and athletic director for Muskegon Public Schools.

“He grabbed both of my wrists and then he shoved me with two hands in the chest, and at that time, I said, ‘You just pushed me,’” Guy said. “I would’ve lost everything if I would’ve reacted in the wrong way. And I understand that. But I shouldn’t have been put in that position to have to make that decision.”

Pictures and video show details of the assault. Guy standing tall, not retaliating after the contact. 

Guy’s restraint, he believes, taught his team a valuable lesson. 

“When I went in to see my guys, as a man, you want to protect your family. And that’s the role of a man — a real man. And those kids are my family. And I feel like at that moment, I was helpless and I was unable to protect them,” Guy said. “They had questions, but I couldn’t give them answers. But the one thing about it, I think they learned that you don’t have to always react. In a situation you have to collect yourself and use better judgement, you don’t just think. For the guys, that I was able to show restraint.”

The Michigan High School Athletic Association said earlier this week that Ripple has been suspended for the rest of the season while it investigates the incident and decides on a penalty.

High school sports official William Ripple and Muskegon High School head basketball coach and athletic director Keith Guy have an altercation on March 19, 2021 where Ripple shoves Guy, which resulted in charges filed. (Courtesy: Tim Reilly – Local Sports Journal)

Guy says he has nothing left to say to Ripple. 

“I’m going to let the judicial system do their job. It’s in their hands now. I did what I was supposed to do and what any law-abiding citizen would do. And I did everything within the law,” Guy said. “I don’t know the official. I didn’t know him, never had him, I don’t think. So, I can’t imagine why this happened. I expressed something very calmly to him and then yeah.”

Despite their loss on the court last week, the Big Reds boys have one more game when they face Reeths-Puffer with the district semifinals on the line.

Guy says last week’s incident will be a distant memory come tip-off. 

“It is a valuable lesson and I think my kids’ take away is that you don’t have to react,” Guy said. “And think about it, I just don’t think a 16-, 17-, 18-year-old kid deserves this and have to go through, should have to go through this. They should be getting ready for their game without distraction and enjoying what’s left of this season in the midst of a pandemic.”

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