By Morgan Bryce
Following a 37-year-long career covering Opelika High School athletics, D. Mark Mitchell is no longer “The Voice of the Dawgs.”
Removed from his position by Opelika City Schools officials last week, Mitchell said that the abrupt ending to his career was unwarranted and unjustified.
“It is a shame that Dr. Mark Neighbors (OCS superintendent) decided to make a change. I did no wrong or said anything wrong to be taken off the Opelika radio broadcast,” Mitchell said. “I will miss the booth and (the) many friends I met (through) broadcasting.”
In a statement Tuesday, Neighbors expressed his gratitude to Mitchell for his years of service to the school and community, but declined to give a reason for his dismissal.
“We appreciate the commitment and dedication that D.Mark Mitchell has had to the Opelika High School athletic program and the Friday night football game broadcast for over 30 years. He helped establish the Opelika All-Sports Booster Club and has always been a champion for our city. We appreciate his service to our schools and to our community,” Neighbors said.
Being a play-by-play radio announcer for Opelika was the realization of a childhood dream for Mitchell, an opportunity to share his passion for both the school and its athletic programs with listeners.
“I loved every minute of broadcasting Opelika games. No one will have as much care and passion for the kids and Opelika than me,” Mitchell said. “I was the eyes for many people listening each week that could not attend the games. Broadcasting Opelika football was a part of my life. I enjoyed my team and always cared about Opelika and our kids.”
Mitchell also resigned as president of the Opelika All-Sports Booster Club, an organization that he has been a member of since 1983.
He helped conceptualized the group’s “Corporate Sponsor Plan” in 1991, a program that splits funding among all school sports. It helped generate more than $120,000 for the 2017-18 season.
Mitchell will still host his daily morning sports talk show “On the Mark” during the week, as well as the “Orthopedic Clinic High School Recap” and “High School Coaches” shows this fall on WKKR 97.7 FM and WTLM 1520 AM.