The play-by-play announcer who calls University of Iowa men’s basketball games was suspended Friday for the rest of the season for referring to the University of Maryland’s Bruno Fernando as “King Kong” during a game.
Hawkeye Sports Properties, the multimedia rights manager for University of Iowa athletics, announced the suspension of Gary Dolphin just hours before the 21st-ranked Hawkeyes were to host Indiana University.
Fernando had 11 points and 11 rebounds, including a go-ahead putback with 7.8 seconds left, to help No. 24 Maryland beat Iowa 66-65 on Tuesday night in Iowa City. In describing the game’s closing moments, Dolphin said the 6-foot-10-inch, 240-pound African-American who was born in Angola “was King Kong at the end of the game.”
The reference was to a movie monster, resembling a huge gorilla, that has appeared in films and other media since 1933.
This was Dolphin’s second suspension of the season.
He sat out two games after being caught on an open microphone criticizing Iowa guard Maishe Dailey in a win over the University of Pittsburgh in late November. Coach Fran McCaffery called Dolphin’s comments about Dailey “inexcusable.”
Jim Albracht will replace Dolphin for the rest of the season. Bobby Hansen, Iowa’s color commentator, will continue in that role.
Dolphin, a fan favorite who is also Iowa’s football play-by-play man, apologized in a statement released Friday.
“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 will use this as an opportunity to grow as a person and learn more about unconscious bias.”
Iowa’s athletic department released a statement supporting Dolphin’s suspension, saying it “values diversity and is committed to creating a welcoming environment for all members of its campus community.”