Paul Ralston, the radio voice of North Dakota basketball, has been suspended by the school for two games after calling the team's 74-72 loss to Northern Arizona on Saturday a "choke job" during an interview with coach Brian Jones. The team missed five free throws down the stretch after leading in the final minute, and ended up losing in overtime.
By all accounts, North Dakota did indeed choke the game away. In addition to the missed free throws late in the game, the team turned the ball over 21 times, including twice in the last two minutes of the game. Suspending Ralston for merely mentioning the phrase "choke job" seems excessive, but I can see the logic of North Dakota's athletic department considering Ralston said the phrase to the coach's face directly after a tough loss.
Ralston is also the director of broadcast properties for the university, so him calling out someone who is essentially a coworker was obviously frowned upon by the school. Still, it's an extraordinary step for a school to suspend their own play by play man and one rarely ever seen. There's some significant questions worth asking in this situation and just how much freedom announcers should have for fear of punishment from their respective schools, but clearly North Dakota felt Ralston crossed a line.
He'll return to his play by play duties on February 28th, and be replaced in the two games he'll miss by North Dakota associate athletic director Kyle Doperalski. My guess is when Ralston returns he'll be much more careful to not be as blunt in his assessment of North Dakota hoops.
@awfulannouncing It doesnt bother me that he said it if it was result of being frustrated fan, but also fair to suspend.
@awfulannouncing As a fan, there have been times I've wished I could b at postgame presser to badger the witness (coach/manager).
@awfulannouncing Good for him. A lot of announcers are shills worried about biting the hand that feeds them. I say call it like you see it.
@awfulannouncing Bizzare but fair... as far as I know I've never heard a announcer say something like that to a coach and not get blowback.
@awfulannouncing foul. If a team choked a game away, they choked it away. A suspension is ridiculous.
@awfulannouncing is there a clip of it somewhere? I think we need to hear the tone and context to make an accurate ruling.
@awfulannouncing Reminds me of when the Atlanta Braves did not allow the announcers to travel on team plane for critical but true comments.
@awfulannouncing Have u seen a transcript? Id like to know the context it was said in & if he had a reputation of pushing the line.2 games?!
@awfulannouncing crazy. Id had run ins with coaches or players or players moms. Never suspended. And for something that tame?
@BrandonRush @awfulannouncing I'd argue that "choke" is a four-letter word in that case - it implies that the team is mentally weak.
@realTimfromAK @ConorB76 MT @awfulannouncing UND suspends their own play by play man for calling loss a "choke job." http://t.co/X05GKTuzNr
@Mark_J_Boyle I've listened to you on the radio and you don't hold back. If you worked for North Dakota you'd have a lot of vacation days.
Bullshit! #freerauly RT @awfulannouncing North Dakota suspends their own PBP man for calling loss a "chokejob". http://t.co/DHQqePdl
Doperalski calls the games on TV, so they should be ok with him on teh radio. Still, this is ridiculous. Announcers should always be honest and should never be biased.
RT @awfulannouncing: Weird story of day - North Dakota suspends own play by play man for calling loss a "choke job." http://t.co/nrXHoHHk
@awfulannouncing Isn't that why the Cubs cut Steve Stone loose - because he *gasp* called it like he saw it?