Veteran NCAA Announcer Booted for Season Over ‘Racist’ Compliment of Player: He Was ‘King Kong’

“Fernando was King Kong at the end of the game.”

A veteran Iowa Hawkeyes play-by-play announcer was suspended for the rest of the NCAA basketball season because he approvingly called a player “King Kong.”

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Gary Dolphin made the comment about forward Bruno Fernando, who scored the go-ahead basket for the Maryland Terrapins with 7.8 second remaining to notch 11 points and 11 rebounds on the night, his 17th double-double of the season. He also collected a pair of key offensive rebounds and scored Maryland’s last four points in the final 30 seconds.

“Twelve 3s on 22 made baskets. That’s some pretty good long-range shooting,” Dolphin said of his team on the broadcast alongside analyst Bobby Hansen. “And then Fernando was King Kong at the end of the game.”

The result of the Big Ten showdown in Iowa City was Terrapins 66, Hawkeyes 65.


Learfield Sports, which owns Hawkeye Sports Properties, announced the suspension Friday, and Iowa’s athletic department issued a statement supporting the decision.

Gary Dolphin, who has called Iowa football and men’s basketball games since 1996, apologized in a statement for his “inappropriate word choice.”

“During the broadcast, I used a comparison when trying to describe a talented Maryland basketball player. In no way did I intend to offend or disparage the player,” he said. “I take full responsibility for my inappropriate word choice and offer a sincere apology to him and anyone else who was offended. 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,” he added, apparently conceding that he had referenced the fictional giant ape because Fernando is black.

Sensitivity about racism, real or imagined, seems to have ramped up recently in American culture – along with just plain sensitivity – especially on college campuses.

In November, Dolphin was suspended two games for disparaging the talents of Iowa player Maishe Dailey on a live microphone during the broadcast of a Hawkeyes’ game against the Pittsburgh Panthers.

At the time, Iowa coach Fran McCaffrey deemed Dolphin’s comments “inexcusable” and acknowledged the he and the announcer have “had some issues.”

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