Professor: ESPN's Dan Dakich 'debased and violated me' during Twitter debate, radio show

Jason Owens
·4-min read
ESPN analysts Dan Dakich awaits the start of the Maryland and Indiana NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017 in College Park, Md. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)
Dan Dakich deactivated his Twitter account following controversy last week. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)

A college professor and podcast host embroiled in a feud with Dan Dakich over amateur athlete compensation spoke out against the ESPN analyst and Indianapolis radio personality after the debate turned personal.

Dr. Johanna Mellis of Ursinus College in Pennsylvania told the Indianapolis Star on Monday that she felt violated by Dakich's social media and radio commentary.

"His behavior here was misogynistic and violent toward me," Mellis told the Star on Monday.

Debate over former Duke player veered into personal attacks

The incident that has since launched an ESPN investigation and prompted Dakich to deactivate his Twitter account started when Dakich commented on the decision of former Duke basketball player Jalen Johnson to leave the program early in anticipation of the NBA draft.

Duke lecturing fellow Nathan Kalman-Lamb condemned Dakich and other members of sports media who criticized Johnson for his decision or suggested that Duke was better off without him. Mellis, who co-hosts a podcast with Kalman-Lamb and was an NCAA swimmer at College of Charleston, joined the conversation.

Dakich takes 'Let's go at it in the pool' comment out of context

When Dakich, a former Indiana basketball player and Bowling Green head coach, questioned his critics' respect for college athletes, Mellis tweeted about her bonafides and challenged Dakich to "go at in in the pool."

@JohannahMellis
@JohannahMellis

Dakich suggested on his WFNI radio show the following day that Mellis meant something sexual by "go at it in a pool."

"And I said outside the arena. And then she wanted to, quote, 'go at in the pool,'" Dakich said, per Awful Announcing. "Well, if you go at it in a pool, that’s a public place and then I’m gonna have to get divorced, and then it’s just gonna be a problem.”

Dakich also spoke about his critics "sitting outside bitching" while he was "in the arena."

Mellis: Dakich 'debased and violated me'

Mellis told the Star that Dakich "debased" her with those comments.

"Through his use of the b-word and the way he sexualized my clear reference to racing in the pool, he debased and violated me according to my identity over the public airwaves for all to hear," Mellis told the Star in an email. ... “His actions are the perfect example of how critics of exploitation in the sports realm are treated, especially women."

Dakich: 'Bitching' commentary not targeted at Mellis

Dakich previously argued that his use of the word "bitching" had nothing to do with Mellis being a woman.

"I didn’t even realize, I just said bitching because it’s what people do," Dakich said on his radio show. "It’s what everybody does, everybody just bitches. But that’s sexist apparently because I said bitching and a lady was in the conversation."

The Star asked Dakich for a response to Mellis' comments Monday. He had yet to arrange an interview by the time it published Mellis' comments Monday evening.

Dakich's past controversies

Dakich has courted controversy in the past with his on-air commentary, calling a high school basketball player a "meth head" and describing the Indiana town of Scottsburg as full of "meth and AIDS and needles" after a basketball coach got fired in 2020, according to the Star.

"I may just drive down there and beat the hell out of every school board member," Dakich said on air last March, according to the Star.

WFNI suspended Dakich from his show for a separate incident in 2019.

Mellis referenced Dakich's past controversies on Monday.

"I can’t imagine any working environment that claims to be genuinely dedicated to inclusivity that can reconcile his behavior," she told the Star. "You cannot claim to provide a healthy, inclusive working environment that includes his behavior. We know his history. Do we actually think his behavior will get any better? If not, what do we do with that fact?"

Mellis has protected her Twitter account since speaking with the Star on Monday. Mellis and Kalman-Lamb host "The End of Sport" podcast, self-described as "A podcast on capitalist sport, labor, and justice for end times."

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