Renee Gork will now forever be known as the owner of the most famous hat in the country. Well, at least the most infamous one of the Southeastern Conference. Gork is the reporter from Arkansas who wore a Florida Gators hat to an Arkansas Razorbacks football press conference only to be publicly chastised by coach Bobby Petrino. It gets worse. After the story made national headlines, Gork was fired from her radio station. Gork believes she was fired because folks at Arkansas told her boss she wouldn’t be allowed to cover practice anymore because of “Hat-gate.” Her boss, general manager Dan Storrs, says she was fired for a variety of reasons, the hat only being the tip of the iceberg. We may never know the full story, but if you didn’t know the proper procedure for headware at Division I football press conferences, you do now.
Fired reporter Renee Gork and the general manager who fired her Dan Storrs joined The Dan Patrick Showto discuss why Gork was fired, how much it had to do with “Hat-gate,” whether there were complaints from the football program, her Twitter activity, whether she would have incurred the same fate if she had worn an Arkansas hat to a Florida practice and why she wound up wearing the hat.
Gork on why she had the hat on:
“I’m not the type of person [to create a scene]. I respect Coach Bobby Petrino and don’t know him very well, but that would not have been my way of trying to get to know him better. … It was raining, I wasn’t even thinking about it and I put the hat on, plain and simple.”
On how long she kept the hat on:
“I had it on the whole time. The press conference was at the end of the scrimmage. I asked a question and I think I might have been the second or third question … and he answered my question and had a very lengthy answer to it and, at the end, stated ‘And I won’t answer any more questions with that hat on.’ I thought he was joking. At that point, I put my hat over the Florida emblem kind of joking and that was it. Had I thought he was serious or to the point that it has been made how serious he was, I certainly would’ve taken it off.”
Storrs on why she was fired:
“Well, you know I really can’t probably get into great details about why she was fired as I’m sure you can imagine. But I will tell you that you’re very, very smart because obviously it wasn’t just because of the hat. It might have been a tiny fraction. … Renee came to us with an incredibly good resume and we were very excited to have her because she is very talented. … There were several reasons why she’s no longer with us, one of them being the hat. But a very small part of it was the hat.”
Gork on why she thinks she was fired:
“In the station’s defense that I used to work for, what he told me was that that morning he had received a phone call from one of the top media relations people at the University of Arkansas … Let me rephrase it. He did not tell me, he just told me he received a phone call from him that it wouldn’t work out, I wouldn’t be welcome. And if I can’t cover practice, that was pretty much the reason they hired me. … So I understood where he was coming from, but I just didn’t understand the severity of it, the harshness of it. If anything, a reprimand, a suspension or something.”
Storrs on whether complaints from the football department helped lead to the firing:
“Obviously the football department wasn’t happy about it. Everybody saw the press conference with Coach Petrino. But in no way, shape or form do I want to say that Petrino had anything to do with her getting fired. That seems like it’s come out in the national news, that Petrino had something to do with this and that didn’t happen.”
Storrs on whether Gork broke rules regarding Twitter:
“You can’t Twitter during practice. We can’t allow employees covering the Razorbacks to get on the Twitter account and say how much she’d prefer to be covering the Gators and things like that. You’re just tipping the iceberg on some of the things that happened.”
Gork on her Twitter activity:
“You were allowed to Twitter if you stepped outside the grounds and that’s what I was told to do. For [Storrs] to say that, he was actually the reason why I set up a work Twitter account because he wanted me to do that. … Basically it wasn’t even a tweet-by-tweet. It was stepping out to tweet, save a tweet, send it when I’m gone. I was writing more things down and then tweeting after them.
On whether she tweeted that she’d rather cover Florida:
“I did say [something] on my personal Twitter account, to the people that know me and my friends and family. That’s simply because my friends and family are still there. I’m way out here in Arkansas. I moved out here because I fell in love with someone and it would be great to be back in Gainesville. … Whether that exact tweet came out that way, I don’t really remember. There was that sort of tweet, [but] it wasn’t in that I hate the Razorbacks.”
Storrs on whether Gork would’ve lost her job if “Hat-gate” never happened:
“It might not have happened on Monday, but yes.”
Gork on whether she feels like she was fired by the radio station or by Arkansas football:
“Hmmm. I don’t know. I think the radio station because they felt like I couldn’t do the job they wanted me to do because Arkansas was going to prohibit me from attending practices. I think they kind of work hand-in-hand.