SEC Network denounces analyst's 'scantily clad girls' comment about gymnasts

Florida's Rachel Gowey competes on the balance beam during an NCAA gymnastics match against Missouri, Friday, Jan. 11, 2019, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/Gary McCullough)
One former gymnast characterized the comments as sexualizing a sport that already deals with such problems. (AP Photo/Gary McCullough)

An off-the-cuff but inappropriate comment about an upcoming NCAA gymnastics competition has placed Barry Booker, an SEC Network basketball analyst, in hot water with his employer.

The comment occurred during Saturday’s Arkansas-Missouri basketball game, as Booker and announcer Richard Cross discussed an advertised gymnastics broadcast.

As Cross mused the meet could be a good Valentine’s Day activity, Booker countered that his interest was in the “scantily clad girls.”

Cross immediately countered with a loud “No!” and said the competitions are “one of the great family atmospheres in all of college athletics,” but Booker continued laughing.

The comments received an official response a day later, with SEC commissioner Greg Sankey and the SEC Network both releasing statements calling them “inappropriate.” The network said it would handle the matter internally, while Sankey said the conference is in communication with the network and its parent, ESPN.

One former Arkansas gymnast, Sydney McGlone, condemned the comments and welcomed the news that Booker would be reprimanded. She expanded on the harm of such comments to The Washington Post:

“I was mostly disappointed with the comment due to the ill intent and the sexualizing of a sport that has already faced so much when it comes to sexual abuse,” McGlone, 22, told The Post in a text exchange. “A lot of times gymnasts are already seen in a negative manner for what we have to wear, and the fact that a trained professional would make such a comment was just discomforting!”

Booker also reportedly apologized for the comments later in the broadcast.

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