That led announcer Richard Cross to note that gymnastics meets feature “one of the great family atmospheres that you will find in all of college athletics.” Cross also made a point of telling the TV audience that Booker was responsible for the preceding comment.
Booker then declared he would “stay home and watch” the SEC Network gymnastics telecast. “Actually, I’ll be on the road,” he said. “I’ll be somewhere. I’ll be in my hotel room watching ‘Friday Night Heights.’ ”
“The comments made during yesterday’s telecast were inappropriate and unacceptable,” the SEC Network said in a statement posted to Twitter on Sunday. “We take this matter seriously and are addressing it internally. SEC Network respects all student-athletes, and is committed to showcasing women’s sports with the utmost regard.”
An ESPN spokesman pointed to that statement when The Washington Post asked for comment on Booker’s remarks Sunday. ESPN owns the SEC Network.
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey also expressed his displeasure, saying in a statement Sunday that Booker’s comments were “inappropriate and do not meet the expectations we have for the SEC Network.”
“The SEC’s women’s gymnastics student-athletes deserve our support for many reasons, including their dedication and achievement,” Sankey continued. “We are in communication with the SEC Network and ESPN personnel, and I am confident this matter will be handled appropriately.”
Later in Saturday’s telecast, Booker reportedly apologized for his comments.
Booker, a standout guard at Vanderbilt from 1985 to 1989, is in his sixth season as an SEC Network analyst, having worked previously for ESPN, CBS Sports, Fox Sports and on Jefferson Pilot Sports telecasts of SEC basketball.
A former gymnast at Arkansas, Sydney McGlone, was among those who expressed dismay Sunday at Booker’s remarks.
“I was mostly disappointed with the comment due to the ill intent and the sexualizing of a sport that has already faced so much when it comes to sexual abuse,” McGlone, 22, told The Post in a text exchange. “A lot of times gymnasts are already seen in a negative manner for what we have to wear, and the fact that a trained professional would make such a comment was just discomforting!”