Dan Dakich

On Monday, Dana Hunsinger Benbow of The Indianapolis Star reported that Dan Dakich was suspended for five days from hosting his three-hour radio show on The Fan 93.5 and 107.5, an ESPN Radio affiliate in Indianapolis. No specific explanation was given about the suspension other than the suspension was for “a failure last year on Dan’s part to adhere to the journalistic principles valued by Emmis.” Hmmm….That’s a tasty meatball!

While nobody is speaking on the record, several Awful Announcing sources believe that the suspension stems from comments Dakich made on his show on October 23, 2018. If accurate, this would mesh with the statement the Star got from Emmis (the owner of The Fan). Here’s the full Emmis statement:

“Dan Dakich will not be appearing on his show this week. Dan and Emmis have mutually agreed to a suspension period of five days due to a failure last year on Dan’s part to adhere to the journalistic principles valued by Emmis.”

Former Indiana Pacers’ basketball player Scot Pollard is filling in for Dakich this week. But there are a lot of questions about just what Dakich was suspended for, especially with everyone involved being vague or not commenting. Multiple sources suggested to AA that this is about the comments Dakich made on Oct. 23, 2018, though. And while the audio of those comments appears unavailable, Dakich tweeted that morning about developments in the FBI-Adidas investigation.

When he went on the air later, Dakich discussed the basketball program at Indiana (also an Adidas school) and their recruitment of prospect Romeo Langford. And that discussion spurred a lot of Twitter comment:

We’ll shy away from trying to reconstruct exactly what Dakich said, but it’s clear Dakich discussed Indiana recruiting and mentioned associate head coach Tom Ostrom, highly regarded then-Indiana freshman Romeo Langford, and businessman Adam Estes. And the Star asked Dakich about previous comments on Langford:

When Dakich was asked about a possible suspension or litigation then, he said he wasn’t aware of any. When asked if it might involve something he said about Langford, he responded in a text: “Saying Langford was a ‘shoe guy’ playing more for Nike or Adidas isn’t cause for litigation I don’t think!”

Langford’s recruitment has been the subject of many published articles, including a piece from The Washington Post titled “Before this hoops recruit chose Indiana, Adidas made sure he stayed under its tent.” From the article:

In January 2017, [then-Louisville coach Rick] Pitino said, two Adidas officials met with him to discuss their efforts to keep Nike and Under Armour from landing Langford, whom Pitino was recruiting. Pitino’s account was supported by text messages he shared with The Washington Post for a previous story.
AD

“The way they phrased it, it was [whichever shoe company] was going to pay the dad’s AAU program the most money, gets it,” Pitino said in a recent phone interview. A few days later, Adidas’s league added a new team: Twenty Two Vision, featuring Romeo Langford on the court and Tim Langford as team director. Shoe company sponsorships can reach $100,000 to $150,000, and team directors who limit expenses can pay themselves salaries from those amounts.

“That’s the way that world works,” Pitino said. “Which is completely legal, by the way.”
Charges involving Kansas, N.C. State make it clear: FBI is enforcing NCAA rules
In a brief phone interview May 3, Tim Langford professed ignorance of the financial details of Adidas’s sponsorship of his team but adamantly denied taking any pay as team director and also denied the sponsorship had any influence on his son’s college decision. Kentucky, Duke and Vanderbilt, all Nike-sponsored programs, and UCLA, an Under Armour team, were all considered strong contenders at various points in Langford’s recruitment.

Dakich, who was a former assistant coach at Indiana and regularly calls Indiana games (as well as other college basketball games) for ESPN, seemed to have been active in monitoring and commenting on Langford’s recruitment.

So exactly what did Dakich say that brought on his suspension? Again, with no audio, it’s hard to definitively say. But Dakich’s Oct. 23, 2018 comments on Langford’s recruitment appear to have possibly triggered some legal action or threat of legal action. And legal action (or the threat thereof) may explain the delayed punishment here; there’s often a  window to take action over written or spoken comments, and it’s often around a year. So it’s possible there was recent discussion of potential legal action, and a solution to avoid that involved this suspension.

While we can’t find any evidence of any active litigation, Awful Announcing sources believe non-disclosure agreements are prohibiting any public comment regarding Dakich’s suspension. If that’s indeed accurate, all parties are certainly doing a tremendous job abiding by those. E-mails and calls to Dakich, Estes, and The Fan’s station manager were not returned. ESPN also declined comment about the suspension and if Dakich would continue to call Indiana basketball games.

(It should be noted that many ESPN Radio affiliates are owned by other companies, and that the affiliation is often pretty loose. ESPN and parent company Disney have previously claimed they’re not responsible for issues at their radio affiliates, legal or otherwise. And this suspension for Dakich is from Emmis and The Fan, not from ESPN. There has been no discipline announced for Dakich from ESPN, where he works on their televised college basketball coverage.)

Ultimately, it seems Dakich said something on air where he didn’t “adhere to the journalistic principles” of the station. And more than a year later, he now finds himself suspended. What remains to be seen is what exactly was the statement or statements that Dakich made that got us here, and how this played out behind the scenes. But it certainly seems as if loose lips on the air led to a case of zippered-shut lips nearly a full year later.

About Ben Koo

Copying and pasting my Twitter bio. I'm also refusing (for now) to write this in the third person. This is me - EIC and CEO at @comeback_sports and @AwfulAnnouncing, world's greatest chinese jew, proud Buckeye, funny dude, and sports and digital media zealot.