Iowa athletic officials, basketball team mum on Gary Dolphin's suspension

Mark Emmert
Hawk Central

IOWA CITY, Ia. — Gary Dolphin was absent from Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday night, and so was any reaction from the university or its basketball team about the suspended broadcaster.

Dolphin, the radio voice of Hawkeye football and men’s basketball for 22 years, will not be calling basketball games for at least the rest of this season. That’s the punishment that Hawkeye Sports Properties announced earlier Friday because Dolphin referred to opposing player Bruno Fernando, who is black, as “King Kong” after Maryland defeated Iowa on Tuesday. Iowa’s athletics department issued a statement of support for that decision later.

Dolphin apologized in a news release for his "negative remarks."

The Hawkeyes defeated Indiana 76-70 in overtime Friday night, with Jim Albracht calling the game alongside former Iowa star Bobby Hansen, Dolphin’s longtime broadcast partner. They did not address the Dolphin suspension in their hour-long pregame. Hansen told the Register after the game that he will not be speaking on the matter.

► More: Iowa radio announcer Gary Dolphin suspended for basketball season after 'King Kong' reference

Iowa athletics director Gary Barta slipped into his seat just before tipoff and headed downstairs before the game’s conclusion, not wishing to speak with reporters. An athletics department worker said coach Fran McCaffery would not answer questions about the situation either.

There is no scheduled news conference at which Barta will speak. The university is standing by its two-sentence statement instead.

“The University of Iowa athletics department supports Hawkeye Sports Properties decision to indefinitely suspend radio play-by-play announcer Gary Dolphin,” the statement read.

“The University of Iowa athletics department values diversity and is committed to creating a welcoming environment for all members of its campus community.”

► LISTEN: Hear the 'negative remarks' that had Iowa broadcaster Gary Dolphin apologizing in November

It was certainly the talk of the fanbase, though. Among the sellout crowd Friday was a pair of men who donned dolphin costumes with the words “Save the Dolph.” They posed for a few photos and took the outfits off at halftime.

Hawkeye players said after the game that they had a team meeting Friday with McCaffery and spoke about the Dolphin suspension. They said it’s an internal matter and will not be a distraction.

“Coach addressed the comments with us. It was important for us earlier (Friday) to focus on the game,” Iowa junior forward Tyler Cook said. “They’re going to handle that whatever way they feel appropriate. It’s imperative for us to continue to focus on what’s going on, especially if we keep getting games like that.”

A Maryland spokesperson said the university would not comment on the Dolphin suspension, either. 

No. 19 Iowa (21-6, 10-6 Big Ten Conference) has played four consecutive games decided in the final seconds or in overtime. The Hawkeyes next play at Ohio State on Tuesday.