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Wayne Nelson / Forum News Service, Published February 20 2013

UND suspension of play-by-play announcer featured nationally

GRAND FORKS – The University of North Dakota’s decision earlier this week to suspend North Dakota men’s basketball announcer Paul Ralston has drawn national attention.

Ralston received a two-game suspension for remarks he made after UND lost an overtime game to Northern Arizona last week at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.

In his postgame interview with UND coach Brian Jones, Ralston used the words “choke job” in describing UND’s play down the stretch during North Dakota’s 74-72 Big Sky Conference loss against Northern Arizona.

Despite the “choke job” comment, Jones did continue his postgame interview with Ralston.

The Herald’s story on the suspension that ran Monday was featured on the ESPN and Sports Illustrated websites. By late Wednesday, more than 1,700 comments were posted to the ESPN.com story on the suspension. It was also featured by USA Today.

The UND athletic department received media inquiries from various outlets, including Fox Sports North. The suspension was also discussed on KFAN sports radio in the Twin Cities.

The incident also drew considerable social media attention, primarily on Twitter.

UND athletic director Brian Faison, who attended UND’s basketball game at Northern Colorado on Wednesday night, declined comment.

Through an athletic department spokesman, Ralston also declined comment.

Ralston, however, did host the UND coaches radio show Wednesday night on the North Dakota radio network.

Ralston has served as a North Dakota play-by-play announcer for the men’s and women’s programs the past five years but was the men’s announcer this season – the first for UND in the Big Sky Conference.

Ralston also is a UND employee in the school’s athletic department.

Faison issued the two-game suspension Monday. Ralston did not call UND’s game at Northern Colorado and will miss North Dakota’s Bracketbuster game Saturday at Nebraska-Omaha.

He will be back on the air for UND’s game at Portland State next Thursday.

UND associate athletic director Kyle Doperalski is handling UND’s play-by-play duties in Ralston’s absence.

Nelson is the sports editor for the Grand Forks Herald