As Andy Dumstorf read about the radio reporter who got fired this week for wearing a Florida cap to an Arkansas football news conference, memories came flooding back of the time something similar happened to him.
Dumstorf became a footnote in Kentucky basketball history in 1986 when he lost his job as a part-time student employee in the school's sports information office because he made it no secret he rooted for Louisville basketball. The Louisville native grew up attending games at Freedom Hall and revering Denny Crum, so he couldn't switch allegiances just because he chose to attend school far enough away from home that he wouldn't have to live with his parents.
"The way they explained it to me was you can't work for Coke and drink Pepsi in the office," Dumstorf recalled on Wednesday. "It was hard because I was in a position where I thought I was going to make a career out of that. I thought I was going to work in the sports information field and I was just scared I was going to be looked at as a whistle blower."
The story of Dumstorf's firing brought Kentucky unflattering national attention similar to the negative press Arkansas has received in the wake of an incident involving radio reporter Renee Gork. Razorbacks football coach Bobby Petrino told Gork he wouldn't answer another question from her as long as she was wearing her Gators cap, prompting outrage among Arkansas fans and leading her radio station to fire her the next morning.
"This radio station is Hog Sports Radio," KAKS general manager Dan Storrs told the Associated Press. "We are very biased. We support the Razorbacks 100 percent."
Dumstorf admits Gork jeopardized her journalistic objectivity by wearing her Florida hat, but he doesn't believe the blunder should have cost the Gators alum her job. In fact, he thinks the entire incident would never have generated any buzz whatsoever if Petrino hadn't made a fuss about it during his news conference.
"If Petrino doesn't bring it up, nobody even knows about it," Dumstorf said. "Should she have done it? No. But he shouldn't have reacted the way he did either."
If Gork is looking for inspiration regarding how to move on with her life, perhaps she can find some in Dumstorf's story. His bitterness about getting fired has faded as the years have gone by and he now admits his life may have turned out better as a result.
As a result of no longer working for Kentucky sports information, Dumstorf had more time to write for the school newspaper and freelance for the Lexington Herald-Leader and various other local publications. He did work in sports information at Louisville for a few years after college, but his experience at those other jobs has proven valuable for his current gig as a producer at a Louisville TV station.
Dumstorf also had the last laugh from a basketball standpoint -- at least in the short term anyway.
"I was in Louisville in '86 when they won the championship and then Eddie Sutton got fired at Kentucky a few years later," Dumstorf recalled with a chuckle. "That made me feel a little better."
(Thanks, John Clay's Sidelines)