Did KSHBs Jack Harry refer to the Kansas Jayhawks as Gayhawks? He and the station say no, but plenty of KU fans are up in arms.
Heres what we know. Sunday night, sports director Harry was chatting with Frank Boal during a 41 Sports Sunday segment on KSHBs late news.
But, Harry asked Boal, dont you think theyre overrated, these Jayhawks and at this point he either repeated Jayhawks or said something like Gayhawks. In a YouTube clip making the rounds on social media, the second word is a bit hard to make out.
Harrys stance is that he didnt use the term at all. He addressed the controversy on KSHBs 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts Monday and also responded in a YouTube video.
Tuesday morning, Harry sounded genuinely distressed by the uproar.
I have never even thought about that word, even using that word. I havent used that word to my friends, Harry told The Star.
You dont want to be called a bigot, he added. The hatred and the vitriol (on social media) its beyond me.
Yes, hes aware that hes viewed as an MU fan. But Sunday night, he says, he did a commentary on what Mizzou head coach Gary Pinkel did wrong this season.
In this instance, theres this deepseated vengeance between some KU people and my reporting, Harry said. This was an opportunity to jump on a guy. Thats the thing with Twitter. Somebody puts something up and everybody believes it, believes its the gospel.
Also Tuesday, Channel 41 news director Carrie Hofmann reiterated the stations support of Harry but apologized if some viewers heard something other than Jayhawks.
I think he said Jayhawks, Hofmann told The Star. Now, I think people can hear Gayhawks as I have when youre trying to listen for Gayhawks.
I think its a bit of a flub and he was getting animated, (but) I do not think he said Gayhawks.
She added: This certainly isnt the first time hes had issues with KU fans in particular. Theres a definite love to hate Jack by KU fans.
Still, she said Harry was completely flabbergasted, shocked when he got wind of the controversy.
Randy Thurman, KSHBs creative services director, said the station talked to every crew member here that night who saw it live on the set, including Boal. Everyone is just as surprised by this, Thurman said.
In the YouTube response, Harry says in part: Somehow, someway, I dont know what happened, but it got out on the social media that I used a derogatory term in talking about the Kansas Jayhawks. Ive had my go-arounds with Jayhawk fans, but I would never say what I have been accused of.
The station also issued a response Monday on its website and on Facebook.
It also tweeted this: We stand by Jack and encourage him to speak his mind when it comes to sports in Kansas City and beyond. We checked the video (of the broadcast), our own video, spoke w/ Jack, and determined he didnt say (Gayhawks).
Jayhawks fans on social media didnt sound appeased, like this commenter on YouTube: Um but he DID say it. It may have been a slip. but he did say it. He may not have meant it (though he likely did) but he cannot deny this.
The opinionated Harry is a fixture on Kansas City television. He has covered sports for three local stations, starting at WDAF, Channel 4, in the early 1970s. In 2002, after retiring as the longtime sports anchor at KCTV-5, he joined Channel 41.