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ESPN ‘looking into’ college basketball analyst Dan Dakich’s controversial comments

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ESPN is looking into controversial comments made by college basketball analyst Dan Dakich last week online and on his Indianapolis radio show stemming from an interaction with three college professors. Dakich received significant national attention over the weekend in a post from the sports media site Awful Announcing. 

Dakich, who has been an aggressive presence online for several years, deactivated his Twitter account on Sunday. 

In response to a question about whether Dakich remained employed by the network and would be calling games this week, ESPN spokesperson Anna Negron said: “We are taking this matter very seriously and are in the process of looking into it.” 

The issue began when Nathan Kalman-Lamb, a lecturing fellow at Duke University, posted a tweet criticizing the reaction of some sports media members to Duke basketball freshman Jalen Johnson leaving the team earlier this month to prepare for the NBA Draft.

Dakich, who has been known to search for Twitter conversations referencing him and pick fights with fans and other media members over those comments, then started going back-and-forth with Kalman-Lamb and Dr. Johanna Mellis, an assistant professor in the history department at Ursinus College who hosts a podcast on sports and labor issues. 

Dakich talked about the argument the following day on his radio show, insulting Kalman-Lamb’s appearance, spelling out his name and repeatedly referencing his office hours at Duke, which was interpreted by some as doxxing or inciting his fans to take malicious action. 

In the Twitter conversation with Mellis, Dakich, a former college coach, tried to draw a contrast between being “in the arena” and in a college classroom. Mellis, a former swimmer at College of Charleston, shot back at Dakich: “let’s go at it in the pool.” 

Dakich referenced that comment on his radio show in a way that Mellis said on Twitter she interpreted as an implicit reference to sexual violence.  

Dakich has a lengthy history of borderline behavior online and on his radio show, including a five-day suspension from WFNI The Fan in 2019 for failing to “adhere to journalistic principles.” Though the radio station never specified why he was suspended, there was speculation at the time that it was related to comments Dakich had made regarding former Indiana player Romeo Langford’s recruitment. 

Last March, he was under investigation again for a rant on his show about the firing of a Scottsburg, Indiana, high school basketball coach. Dakich called a player a “methhead” and said he “may just drive down there and beat the hell out of every school board member.” He also said the town of Scottsburg is full of “meth and AIDS and needles.” 

ESPN has not publicly disciplined Dakich for any of his previous comments. 

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