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VCU Apologizes to Rhode Island Broadcaster For Improper Access to Radio Booth

The VCU athletic department to the University of Rhode Island and broadcaster Shane Donaldson for not providing proper access to the broadcast area during Wednesday’s basketball game.

The radio desk for the URI road broadcast was placed behind a rail that required using a stepladder to climb over. For Donaldson, who has cerebral palsy, navigating the stepladder and climbing over the rail presented an impossible situation.

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Donaldson posted a picture on Twitter of the setup for the road radio desk at VCU’s Siegel Center.

“I knew right away looking at it, it’s not something I would have been able to do,” Donaldson told Providence’s CBS 6. “To ask you to climb a ladder and hop a fence… it’s just not something I would do, wasn’t willing to even try. It would have been a disaster for me.”

VCU athletic director Ed McLaughlin told CBS 6’s Lane Casadonte in a statement that he apologized to Donaldson and URI athletic director Thorr Bjorn.

“In both open and honest conversations, I apologized on behalf of VCU Athletics for causing undue emotional harm,” said McLaughlin. “I have a great deal of respect for the entire Rhode Island Department of Athletics and for the work that Shane does.”

McLaughlin went on to say the athletic department and facility staff would work with the university’s ADA (American with Disabilities Act) office to properly address the situation and continue to “foster an environment of inclusion and belonging.”

In his statement, McLaughlin also said that facility staff offered alternate accommodations immediately upon being told of the broadcast setup but the URI radio team “chose not to accept.” Donaldson explained that was because attempts to fix the situation were on the fly and there wasn’t an apparent set plan and called the lack of thought applied to the issue “appalling.”

“It was kind of like they were looking over the arena,” said Donaldson. “And saying, we’ll try to figure out somewhere else to put you.”

Donaldson explained to Providence’s WJAR that it was too close to game time to work out a viable solution, but he still wanted to make sure this issue wasn’t ignored.

“This is not the kind of attention that I would want to be a part of,” Donaldson told NBC 10’s Christina Vitale, “but it doesn’t make anything better for anybody else if you don’t shine a light on this kind of thing and say here we are in 2022, how is this acceptable?”

According to CBS 6, VCU moved the radio broadcast tables to their current location prior to this season to accommodate more floor seating for fans. The Atlantic 10 Conference only requires that radio broadcast stations are provided, with no mandate as to where they’re located.

Ian Casselberry
Ian Casselberry
Ian Casselberry is a sports media columnist for BSM. He has previously written and edited for Awful Announcing, The Comeback, Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, MLive, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation. You can find him on Twitter @iancass or reach him by email at [email protected].

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