So, this week Renee Gork, a sports reporter in Arkansas, was fired from her radio station for wearing a University of Florida hat into a press conference with Arkansas Football Head Coach (and former ASU quarterback coach) Bobby Petrino.
The day started innocently enough. It was raining and UF alum Gork claims she threw on her alma mater’s hat to stay dry. During the press conference, she had the opportunity to ask a few questions, which Petrino answered – and finished by saying he would never answer another question from a local reporter sporting a UF hat.
Gork laughed off what must have been an obvious joke.
Or so she thought.
After the press conference, a member of Arkansas’ sports information team escorted her away while letting her know Petrino was LIVID about the blatant disrespect – this was the SEC and UF was a major rival, after all.
Embarrassed, Gork claims her radio station told her not to make a big deal and they would have her back. After a call from Arkansas, however, she was fired.
Now, the sports fan in me who knows how crazy the SEC can be thinks she got what she deserved. If I ever saw a reporter wearing a USC or Michigan hat to a Notre Dame game, I would go ballistic too.
But take away someone’s ability to make a living over it? A woman with two young children? I think not – if only to escape what could become a PR nightmare.
Gork has started speaking out about the treatment and is getting some national attention (in fact, she was on the nationally syndicated Dan Patrick radio and television program this week as well as ESPN) – and while she made a mistake, she is a professional broadcaster and paints a very bad PR picture of Arkansas and her radio station.
If I was in charge of PR at either the station or the University, this would never have happened. In fact, I would make light of it by creating a press conference where Petrino go the chance to burn the hat in effigy or something – great photo opp!
But, alas, I am not.
Now that the firing has happened, both PR teams (at the station and University) have to be smart – what do you think they will do? What would you do?
Oh – and GO IRISH!