Iowa basketball radio play-by-play man Gary Dolphin has been suspended for the remainder of this season for comments he made during Tuesday night’s broadcast of the Iowa-Maryland game.
Learfield Sports Properties, which holds the rights to Iowa radio broadcasts, announced the suspension Friday, a few hours before the Hawkeyes were to take the court for a home game against Indiana. Quad-Citian Jim Albracht will replace Dolphin for the remainder of the season, working alongside analyst Bobby Hansen.
In his postgame wrap-up of the Iowa-Maryland game, Dolphin referred to Terrapins’ center Bruno Fernando, who is black, as "King Kong," a fictional gorilla featured in various films.
The 6-foot-10, 245-pound Fernando had scored the game-winning points on a tip-in with 7.8 seconds remaining. Dolphin’s exact comment was: "And then Fernando was King Kong at the end of the game."
Iowa issued a statement supporting the decision to suspend Dolphin, noting that "The University of Iowa athletics department values diversity and is committed to creating a welcoming environment for all members of its campus community."
Dolphin, who has served as the radio voice for Iowa football and basketball for 22 years, issued his own statement apologizing for his actions.
"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," Dolphin 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."
It is the second time this season that Dolphin has been suspended. He sat out two games early in the season after criticizing Iowa guard Maishe Dailey during Iowa’s Nov. 27 game with Pittsburgh. Those comments came during a halftime break when Dolphin did not realize he was on the air.
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery called those remarks "inexcusable" and Iowa athletic director Gary Barta made references to "ongoing tensions" between Dolphin and the Iowa basketball program.
Dolphin returned to his broadcasting duties for the Hawkeyes’ Dec. 6 game against Iowa State although since then Hansen has handled all postgame interviews with Iowa coaches and players.