A Brief History Of The Worst College Basketball Broadcasting Gaffes
Five memorable cases of broadcasters acting poorly
Doug Gottlieb’s declaration on Thursday night that he was bringing diversity to the CBS Sports set wasn’t the first example of a college basketball broadcaster finding himself in hot water. Including Gottlieb’s poor choice of words, here are our five most memorable instances of college basketball broadcasters acting poorly.
1. Billy Packer, 2000
A pair of Duke students reported the perpetually grumpy CBS broadcaster made sexist remarks to them when he checked into Cameron Indoor Stadium to work a Duke-St. John’s game in February 2000. When Packer was asked to show his press pass at the band and media entrance, he reportedly responded, “You need to get a life. Since when do we let women control who gets into a men’s basketball game? Why don’t you go find a women’s game to let people into?” The commentator ultimately apologized to the students in a brief email: “I am sorry you were offended by my comments as I entered Cameron on Feb. 26,” Packer wrote. “It was never my intention to disparage Duke University or its students.”
2. Billy Packer, 2007
With Packer as a guest on the The Charlie Rose Show, the host offered to jump on a plane to Atlanta and work as a show runner for CBS and Packer. To which Packer replied: “You always fag out on that one for me, you know. You always say, ‘Oh, yes, I’m going to be the runner,’ then you never show up.” Packer’s choice of words set off criticism, with him defining the definition of “fag out” as having “nothing to do with sexual connotation.” CBS, in an amusing defense of Packer, called it “a poor choice of words” and defended it by saying, “Billy used the phrase as defined in the American Heritage Dictionary, among others.”
3. Gottlieb, 2013
In a cringe-worthy introduction on Thursday night, the CBS analyst dropped an odd reference to race when he was introduced by host Greg Gumbel. Said Gottlieb: “Cream rising to the crop. I don’t know why you guys asked me, I’m just here to bring diversity to the set here. Give the kind of white man’s perspective on things from the point guard position.” Colleagues Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith laughed awkwardly while Greg Anthony looked at Gottlieb in a similar manner that U.S. officials look at North Korea. Gottlieb later apologized for the statement, saying, “It was not a smart thing to say and I apologize.” Barkley bailed him out as well. ” I want to say something about Doug Gottlieb. He made a joke earlier tonight and people are going crazy. All those idiots on Twitter, which I would never ever do. Listen: me, Kenny and Greg Anthony and Greg Gumbel did not take that personally. So all you people at home who’ve got no life and are talking bad about Doug Gottlieb, get a life. It’s over with. It’s no big deal.”
4. Billy Packer, 1996
During an nationally-televised game between Georgetown and Villanova, Packer described Georgetown star guard Allen Iverson as a “tough monkey.” He later explained it as “a term my father used often as an endearing term” and told the Washington Post, “I only apologized to those people who have those sensibilities. But I also feel sorry for people like that because I don’t see things in terms of black and white.” At the time Washington Post columnist Thomas Boswell said Packer “added so many provisos to his apology that he ended up patting himself on the back.” The broadcaster was ultimately bailed out by then-Hoyas coach John Thompson, who quelled the controversy with a defense of the broadcaster.
5. Bobby Knight, 2012
For a period last March, the ESPN broadcaster refused to say the name of a certain SEC school on his network, acting with the kind of petulance one would expect from a 7-year-old denied a second cup of chocolate ice cream. When asked which No. 1 seed should be on upset alert, Knight refused to say the word Kentucky, a clear sign of his displeasure with Wildcats coach John Calipari, who he had long been at odds with. At first, ESPN refused comment, enabling Knight as it always has. Finally, the coach acted like a grownup a few days later and uttered the name of the school located in Lexington.