INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indianapolis Star sports columnist Gregg Doyel, whose interaction with WNBA No. 1 draft pick Caitlin Clark at her introductory news conference was criticized in the national media as being inappropriate, will not cover the Indiana Fever in person this season.

Gannett spokesperson Lark-Marie Antón said in a statement the corporate owner of the Star does not comment on personnel matters but added: “Indianapolis Star sports columnist Gregg Doyel will not be covering the Indiana Fever.”

Former Star sports writer Bob Kravitz, citing anonymous sources, first reported the decision and also that Doyel had been suspended for two weeks, which Antón would not confirm. Doyel’s most recent column appeared April 29.

Doyel has apologized for the interaction with Clark during a news conference in Indianapolis two days after the Fever chose the Iowa star with the No. 1 overall pick in the WNBA draft. When it was Doyel’s turn to ask a question, he made a heart shape with his hands toward Clark, who is known for making the gesture toward family members at her games. That was followed by this exchange:

Clark: “You like that?”

Doyel: “I like that you’re here, I like that you’re here.”

Clark: “Yeah, I do that to my family after every game, so… Pretty cool.”

Doyel: “Well, start doing it to me, and we’ll get along just fine.”

The interaction was roundly panned as being awkward at best and inappropriate and even creepy at worst. Doyel apologized on social media and again in a column.

“In my haste to be clever, to be familiar and welcoming (or so I thought), I offended Caitlin and her family,” he wrote. “After going through denial, and then anger – I’m on the wrong side of this? Me??? – I now realize what I said and how I said it was wrong, wrong, wrong. I mean it was just wrong.”

Doyel did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment Wednesday. The Fever are expected to be one of the biggest draws during the WNBA season that opens next week.

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AP WNBA: https://apnews.com/hub/wnba-basketball