NBC Universal has parted ways with a Bay Area sports broadcaster after a slip-of-the-tongue resulted in him using a racial epithet during a live baseball game earlier this month.
In a statement, NBC Sports California said it had fired Glen Kuiper after the May 5 broadcast, during which he used “the N-word” while recounting a pre-show trip to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City.
“Following an internal review, the decision has been made for NBC Sports California to end its relationship with Glen Kuiper, effective immediately,” a spokesperson for NBC Sports said on Monday. “We thank Glen for his dedication to Bay Area baseball over the years.”
The slur was uttered during a segment on NBC Sports California before a game between the Oakland Athletics and Kansas City Royals. While the sixth inning was in progress, Kuiper apologized for what he said earlier in the day; later, he apologized again in a written statement distributed by NBC Sports California.
“I could not be more sorry and horrified by what I said,” Kuiper said in the statement. “I hope you will accept my sincerest apologies.”
Kuiper was suspended following an internal probe into the matter, which turned up several questionable emails that violated NBC Universal’s employee code of conduct, according to a person familiar with the matter. The source, who was not authorized to speak to the media, declined to say if the email messages were racist in tone, or whether they were related to the May 5 broadcast.
NBC Universal notified Kuiper of their decision to fire him over the weekend, the source said, and the rest of the NBC Sports California team was told of his dismissal during a meeting Monday morning. Hours after his firing was made public, Kuiper released the following statement:
Monday morning I was informed by an NBC executive that after a 20-year broadcasting career with the Oakland Athletics, my contract was terminated, effective immediately. The termination was due to the unintentional use of an offensive word on the air during the May 5 pregame show.
On that day, I chose to spend my personal time by educating myself and learning more about MLB’s history by going to the Negro League Museum. I spent nearly three hours there in an effort to better understand and more deeply appreciate the difficulties and social barriers African American players endured in MLB’s early years. When the subject of the museum visit came up in the pregame show, I was excited and eager to share what I had done and seen that day.
In my excitement, I rushed through the word “negro” resulting in my very unfortunate mispronunciation. I sincerely apologize to everyone who was hurt by this. It was a terrible but honest mispronunciation, and I take full responsibility. Please know racism is in no way a part of me; it never has been, and it never will be.
I appreciate the Negro League Museum president Bob Kendrick and Oakland A’s great Dave Stewart’s public support of me in light of this. I am an honest, caring, kind, honorable, respectful husband and father who would never utter a disparaging word about anybody. Those who know me best know this about me.
I wish the Oakland A’s and NBC Sports would have taken into consideration my 20-year career, my solid reputation, integrity and character, but in this current environment traits like integrity and character are no longer considered. I will always have a hard time understanding how one mistake in a 20-year broadcasting career is cause for termination, but I know something better is in my future.
I love the game of baseball and I love being a broadcaster, and I love the Bay Area community. I hope I will be remembered for that. Thank you to all my family, friends and great A’s fans that have shown their support.
While suspended, Kuiper drew broad support from many in the sports community, including the director of the Negro Leagues Museum.
“I welcomed Glen to the NLBM yesterday and I know he was genuinely excited to be here,” the director, Bob Kendrick, said in a statement. “The word is painful and has no place in our society. And while I don’t pretend to know Glen’s heart, I do know that my heart is one of forgiveness. I hope all of you will find it in yourselves to do the same.”
Mark Kotsay, the general manager of the Oakland Athletics, told the Associated Press (AP) that the decision to terminate Kuiper wasn’t made at the team’s request.
“I think, personally, we missed an opportunity here maybe to use this as an educational platform,” Kotsay said, according to the AP. “But…I don’t make decisions, and this isn’t a decision I was involved in, nor was the organization, really. This was a decision made by NBC.”
Kuiper has announced Oakland Athletics games since 2006, when the telecast rights to the games were held by Comcast SportsNet West. Prior to announcing Athletics games, Kuiper served as an on-field correspondent for two years. Comcast SportsNet West rebranded to Comcast SportsNet California in 2008; it rebranded to NBC Sports California in 2017, four years after Comcast acquired NBC.
Kuiper had an opportunity to play professional baseball in 1982 after being drafted by the Cincinnati Reds during that year’s amateur entry draft. He declined the opportunity and continued on with college, graduating from San Francisco State University with a degree in broadcasting a few years later.