UND Suspends Play By Play Announcer For Being Too Critical

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Here’s a shining example of the state of free speech in higher education today:

GRAND FORKS – The University of North Dakota announced Monday that North Dakota men’s basketball announcer Paul Ralston has been suspended from his play-by-play duties for two games due to comments he made after Saturday’s game against Northern Arizona. …

Ralston interviewed UND coach Brian Jones shortly after North Dakota’s 74-72 overtime loss to Northern Arizona at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center. UND held a narrow lead in the final minute of regulation, but Northern Arizona rallied to force overtime and eventually won the game.

Ralston used the words “choke job” in his interview session with Jones.

Ralston will resume his play-by-play duties and travel with the team for Big Sky games Feb. 28 at Portland State and March 2 at Eastern Washington.

Here’s some other high points from the free speech track record in the North Dakota University System:

* NDSU President Dean Bresciani bullied the Commissioner of the Summit League into shutting up about being asked to cause trouble for the Fighting Sioux nickname.

* NDSU got Valley News Live anchor Chris Berg pulled from his sideline reporting gig for being too critical of higher education policy in the state.

* Former NDUS Chancellor Bill Goetz paid a visit to KFYR television and got reporter Brian Howell pulled off the Dickinson State University diploma mill story.

* The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education found last year that both UND, and NDSU, have unconstitutional provisions in their campus speech codes.

I could go on, but you get the drift. The North Dakota University System hates criticism and dissent, and they’re not shy about acting to silence (or try to silence) critics.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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  • goober

    WTF is a “choke job?” How can it be politically incorrect if it doesn’t even pass muster as being part of the common lexicon?

    • headward

      Maybe Chris Brown knows(too soon?)

    • Lianne

      I am glad to see that I am not the only one who doesn’t know what it means. I thought it was some inside sports term of which I would never know!

    • cylde

      It is a very like choking your chicken, animal cruelty you know.

  • Geoff Bosse

    What a joke. If they choked they choked. Why can’t the announcer call it what it was? Hard to shoot a basketball when you got both hands wrapped around your neck.

    • RCND

      I’m sure they can tie it back to some nuance alluded to in the Code of Student Life

  • Roy_Bean

    Since the school is looking for a new team name, maybe they should be the Vikings.

  • FrackinNoDak

    They did choke. It was an honest assessment of the game.

  • Jeff

    More proof that you will use anything to further your war against higher ed. You can think what you want about hight ed, that’s find. Can’t this just be the athletic department firing a guy for not liking what he said. I don’t think this goes all the way up to higher ed. This might not have even got up to the AD. But, if the shoe fits..

  • Lynn Bergman

    This article is not the half of it. Neither the Republican Party nor any legislator would even entertain my request to have a bill introduced that would set aside a “free speech zone” on every publicly funded college campus in North Dakota. Yes, legislators are too cowardly to stand up for freedom of speech. Try to seek signatures for a petition on any of our college campuses and you will be in for a surprise… free speech is in jeopardy in North Dakota!

    The sad thing is that when I went to UND (late sixties), there were almost weekly soap box debates at the student union and I occasionally signed petitions circulated in the student union, all with no interference from the administration… how deep we have sunk in America since then…

    • cylde

      We already have a free speech zone, it stretches from sea to shining sea.

  • spud

    Play by play guy’s are paid to be homer’s that is biggest part of job. They are homer’s first and state the obvious second. Chris Berg good football player in his day had to know when he went into higher ed discussion his sideline days were done. When you are collecting money from these institution’s you play by there rules. Ralston start working on your resume.

  • ND Observer

    Current University Administrators hate criticism and throttle anything critical or unflattering. That is a real problem at UND and NDSU. These bureaucrats are not real leaders and are willing to use the power of their office to stifle any criticism or free speech. The reason we had the scandals we’ve had is this arrogance and lack of transparency. I am glad that Rob is bringing up that free speech on college campuses is a bigger problem than most realize.

    • devilschild

      I would include newspaper editors in ND in your comment….what a sensitive bunch. They think their word is scripture and it should treated as such.

  • ec99

    Announcers are hired or approved by the organization. The not so little secret is that they are supposed to be homers. Why does the UND hockey radio always dispute a penalty call against them? It’s his job.

  • Guest

    He is a university sportscaster his job is to support the home team. If you announced for the twins, vikings, or whoever nobody wants to hear you rip apart your team or tell your coach how he choked, your job is to support your team. More of Rob making a big story out of nothing, what a suprise.

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