FSC athletic director fired for heckling golfer

Posted at 6:55 PM, Mar 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-22 12:40:58-04

A Twitter tantrum is now the talk of campus at Florida Southern College in Lakeland after a former assistant athletic director lost his job for taunting a professional athlete online.

It happened during the third round of the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook. Gofer Ian Poulter was not playing his best round of golf and he certainly wasn't getting any help from J.J. Downum, who works at Florida Southern.

Downum later tweeted how he taunted Poulter on the course and tried getting in his head by yelling "you will hit it in the water!"

Well, after the round, Poulter responded to Downum's tweet to his two million followers saying "I'm sure @FSC_Athletics @ @FSCSports are really proud of your professionalism. I wish you the very best."

The tweet started to go viral and it wasn't long before the assistant athletic director lost his job with the college.

"It's pretty unprofessional and it's kind of embarrassing for the campus and for the student athletes," said Arthur Viallaneix, who plays tennis for the college.

When reached by phone, Downum told ABC Action News he was not interested in opening his mouth anymore.

Some students feel the punishment doesn't quite fit the crime.

"theres a side of it where it's like a bit of an overreaction to an extent," said student athlete Delbert Donnelly, who understands why the college fired him but thinks Poulter didn't need to "out him".

Students say coaches and teachers are now turning it into an important learning lesson about representing an organization and how what goes online, is there for the world to see.