Scandals in sports are fairly normal. Athletes often get involved in a ton of negative situations now and then. Whether it is drugs, affairs or a litany of other things. And no one is quicker to report on these scandals than ESPN. But while they enjoy talking about the scandals or athletes for days and days, they themselves are not free of scandal either. Over the decades that ESPN has been around, there have been some major scandals that have rocked the sports giant. Here are 18 of the biggest scandals ESPN has had to face, with number 11 focusing on one of its biggest stars.
#18 Rob Parker
Parker made headlines for the wrong reason when he said some fairly awful things about Robert Griffin III. He claimed that RG3 was a “cornball brother” and that he was not down with the cause and was distancing himself from his race. These comments ultimately got him fired. The man at the number 4 spot was also fired for some racist remarks.
#17 Jay Mariotti and Ken Harrelson
It is normal for media personalities to trade barbs through the media and social media, but rarely does it come to physical blows. However, the beef between Mariotti and Harrelson got real. The two actually got involved in a real fist fight, which obviously led to some bad press for ESPN. This next scandal involves a creepy old guy named Bill – and it’s now who you’re thinking…
#16 Bill Creasy
This is probably the creepiest and weirdest scandal on this list. Creasy was the first President of programming and was 74 years old. He had asked an employee less than half his age to come to his mansion for some “sleepover meetings.” When she refused, he had her fired. The person at the number 8 spot was also very creepy.
#15 Ashley Madison Scandal
For those unfamiliar, Ashley Madison is a site where married people can go to look for an affair. According to statistics found in an investigation, more than 100 different ESPN employees have signed up for the website while at work, which is obviously a pretty bad look for the company. This next scandal is always a huge no-no at work…
#14 Steve Phillips
Phillips was a great MLB analyst for ESPN for years and served as the general manager of the New York Mets from 1997 through 2003. But after it was revealed he was having an affair with a much younger co-worker, he was let go from his position at ESPN. The person in the number 3 entry also was let go surrounding an inappropriate relationship.
#13 Paul Shirley
Shirley is a former pro basketball player who worked for ESPN on a freelance basis. In addition to ESPN, he also wrote articles for other websites. And once such article he wrote was one where he claimed her was not and would not donate to the Haitian earthquake relief fund and that the country should help themselves. No surprise, he was let go for those words.
#12 Jemele Hill
Over the years, Jemele Hill has made some very controversial statements, but still somehow has a job with ESPN. Some of the things she has said include comparing cheering for the Celtics to calling Hitler a victim and also compared coach John Calipari to Charles Manson. Both of those could have easily got her fired.
#11 Chris Berman
Berman is easily one of the most famous people at ESPN, and even he isn’t shielded from the controversy of a scandal. It was alleged that he was having inappropriate conversations in person and via text with a former makeup artist, who later sued him and was awarded compensation after she settled with ESPN out of court.
#10 Skip Bayless
Bayless has a career that is almost solely about sensationalizing and making bold and controversial claims. He has pissed off a large number of athletes and even started a rumor that Troy Aikman is gay. He currently works for FOX after leaving ESPN a few months ago. His former co-host on First Take also appears on this list, at the number 6 spot.
#9 Keith Clinksales
Clinkscales is an executive at ESPN who found himself in quite a bit of trouble after a plane ride. On said plane ride, he was riding next to famous ESPN reporter Erin Andrews. Apparently, Clinkscales began fondling himself on the plane, which is obviously a big problem, though he has denied that it ever happened.
#8 Neil Goldberg
Being a peeping tom has to be one of the most creepy things a person can do. A few years ago, ESPN producer Neil Goldberg was found to have been spying on a neighbor through her window as she changed. He was arrested, and obviously fired from ESPN as a result of the scandal.
#7 Frat-House Atmosphere
The ESPN headquarters in Connecticut is one of the biggest meccas in sports reporting on the entire planet. But behind closed doors, it is more like a frat house than an office building. Apparently, according to rumors and leaks, there is a huge culture of sex and drugs at ESPN.
#6 Stephen A Smith
Like his former partner, Stephen A Smith has made a career of making controversial remarks and statements on his shows and on social media. His comments have aggravated the public, athletes and other media personalities alike. While more toned down than Skip on social media, his statements sometimes bring a lot of backlash to ESPN.
#5 Harold Reynolds
Out of all the scandals in this article, this is one of the weakest. Reynold was let go from ESPN after hugging a female co-worker. While not predatory at all, it goes against the ESPN policy, and he probably should have known better. However, that didn’t stop him from suing for wrongful termination, which awarded him a seven-figure settlement.
#4 Rush Limbaugh
While many of you may not know this, Rush Limbaugh had a brief stint as an ESPN football analyst/commentator in 2003. However, his tenure barely lasted more than a few weeks as he was let go following some racist remarks about Donovan McNabb, saying that he was overrated because he was black.
#3 Scott Sassa
While Sassa wasn’t a direct employee of ESPN, he was working for a partner of the company. A few years ago a major scandal broke in which Sassa was said to have been sexting back and forth with a stripper, who was blackmailing him for cash. He didn’t pay, so she released the texts and he was let go as a result.
#2 Curt Schilling
While Schilling was an amazing pitcher in the MLB, he was not that great of an analyst. He found himself fired from ESPN after making some distasteful tweets about transgender bathrooms. No matter what your ideologies are, you shouldn’t use your fame or following to push them on others.
#1 Mike Tirico
Tirico is one of the longest tenured ESPN personalities and has done a variety of work for them. But behind the scenes, he has a bit of a reputation as a creep among female staffers. He has exhibited some odd behavior towards female coworkers but has never been reprimanded officially for his actions.
So, as you can see, even though they spend hours and hours every single week reporting on various scandals throughout the sports world, they are not innocent from scandals themselves. The 18 scandals you just read and learned about rocked the sports giant to its core. And while they have remained a power in the sports reporting world, these scandals do not help their reputation. And these are only the scandals that have gone public. Who knows how many more things have taken place behind closed doors that ESPN has never spoken about. And in the modern day with privacy seemingly a thing of the past, don’t be shocked if more scandals begin to come out of the woodwork.