An Iowa basketball play-by-play announcer has been suspended through the end of the season after referring to Maryland’s Bruno Fernando as King Kong during a recent radio broadcast.
Gary Dolphin, who has called Iowa football and men’s basketball games since 1996, remarked that “Fernando was King Kong at the end of the game” when the No. 24 Terrapins beat the No. 21 Hawkeyes, 66-65, on Tuesday night in Iowa City.
“During the broadcast, I used a comparison when trying to describe a talented Maryland basketball player,” Dolphin said in a statement released by Learfield Sports, the university’s multimedia rights manager. “In no way did I intend to offend or disparage the player. I take full responsibility for my inappropriate word choice and offer a sincere apology to him and anyone else who was offended."
The statement continued: “I wish the Iowa Hawkeye players, coaches and fans all the very best as they head into the final stretch of the season. I will use this as an opportunity to grow as a person and learn more about unconscious bias.”
The Iowa athletic department told the Associated Press that it supported the suspension and that it “values diversity and is committed to creating a welcoming environment for all members of its campus community.”
The Maryland athletic department declined to comment to The Washington Post.
Fernando tipped in the winning basket during Maryland’s road victory, its first against a ranked team since 2008. He finished the night with 11 points and 11 rebounds for his 17th double-double of the season.
This is the second time this season Dolphin has been suspended. He was barred for two games after criticizing the play of Iowa guard Maishe Dailey in a win over Pittsburgh in November. Those comments were inadvertently made public; Dolphin was speaking during what he thought was a commercial break. Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery called his statements “inexcusable.”
“We want them to win so bad,” Dolphin told the Des Moines Register after that game, “[that] sometimes we get frustrated when they’re not playing well in certain stretches.”
Emily Giambalvo contributed to this report.
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