ESPN Scandals We Never Saw Coming

Note: This article discusses instances of sexual harassment, addiction issues, and domestic violence.

Sports fans tune in to ESPN every day for the valuable, addictive services it provides, such as up-to-the-minute sports scores and video highlights delivered by easygoing anchors with fun catchphrases. In addition to the numerous daily editions of "SportsCenter," ESPN (which, as loyal viewers should know, actually stands for Entertainment and Sports Programming Network) also carries many actual sporting events, including college football bowl games, Monday Night Football, and the like. Beyond all that, ESPN also offers plenty of obscure events that are technically sports or sports-adjacent, such as rodeos and spelling bees.

No matter what we're watching on ESPN, we've become attached to the TV personalities that bring those sporting moments to us, so when those seemingly nice people do bad things on TV or in their personal lives, and we find out about it, it's a shock to our psyches. 

Interestingly, it's happened a lot more often than viewers may have realized. To find out about some of the biggest and most inexplicable controversies from the worldwide leader in sports, read on for a deep dive into ESPN scandals we never saw coming.

The worldwide leader in affairs?

It seems like every few months or so, some major website or retailer gets hacked and suffers a major security breach. Hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals' personal and private information gets exposed and is subject to exploitation. It's absolutely awful, and nobody should have to go through it. However, when Ashley Madison's member rolls were hacked and leaked in the summer of 2015, a palpable sense of "ha-ha, karma's a real kick in the pants" pervaded the culture. 

Ashley Madison is a dating website that serves the demographic of married or romantically attached people looking to have an affair. Sports blog Deadspin looked at the leaked data and found that a whopping 101 ESPN employees — out of about 4,000 at the time — were Ashley Madison clients, including dozens of "highly influential executives, vice-presidents, and producers." In a stupid and amazing twist, 39 of those dirty 101 reportedly used their company email addresses for their Ashley Madison accounts.

Britt McHenry didn't 'tow' the line

Everybody has a bad day once in a while, but when it happens to celebrities and is captured on video, those unfortunate moments tend to go viral. In this age of omnipresent cameras and the internet, the world can witness a celebrity meltdown in minutes. That's what happened to ESPN's Britt McHenry, who appeared on shows such as NFL Live, Baseball Tonight, and SportsCenter. In April 2015, McHenry starred in another project: A security video that showed her screaming at a tow lot employee who didn't provide the level of customer service that McHenry preferred. 

"I'm in the news sweetheart, I will f***ing sue this place," she said in the clip. "That's why I have a degree and you don't ... I wouldn't work at a scumbag place like this ... I have a brain and you don't." She then mockingly asked if she'd qualify for a job there if she'd been a college dropout. "Maybe if I was missing some teeth they would hire me, huh?"

McHenry later issued an apology: "In an intense and stressful moment, I allowed my emotions to get the best of me and said some insulting and regrettable things," she tweeted. "As frustrated as I was, I should always choose to be respectful and take the high road. I am so sorry for my actions and will learn from this mistake." McHenry earned a one-week suspension.

A suit against Chris Berman could ... have ... gone ... all ... the ... way

Chris Berman's alleged skeeviness isn't exactly breaking news. In 2006, a story about Berman picking up a leather-clad woman in a bar went viral after being submitted to Deadspin: "Without even breaking stride, Berman looks at the girl, points, and says, 'You're with me, leather.'" That woman supposedly left the bar with Berman of her own free will and may have welcomed his remarks.

That wasn't the case with an ESPN makeup artist, who alleged a pattern of sexual harassment that continued over several years. Beginning in 2011, Sue Baumann claimed that while working on ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown, Berman made unsavory comments and sent her NSFW text messages. 

According to the Daily Mail, Baumann's husband supposedly made ESPN higher-ups aware of Berman's actions in 2015, and soon thereafter, Baumann was fired. That's when she decided to sue the network. A company investigation found that Baumann's claims "had no merit," but the network reached a settlement with her anyway, which, according to ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz, was "to save a considerable amount of time and litigation costs."

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Worst. Interviews. Ever.

Jenn Sterger is a model and broadcaster, but she's best known for how professional adult men turn into libido-crazed morons in her presence. Need an example? When Sterger was a student at Florida State University in 2005, ABC cameras caught her in the stands during a football game. Sportscaster Brent Musburger quipped, "1,500 red-blooded Americans just decided to apply to Florida State." Sterger moved on from that gross moment. She modeled for Maxim and was hired to report on the New York Jets. It was during Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre's brief stint with that team that he allegedly began aggressively romancing Sterger, which is to say, allegedly sending her pictures of his junk. 

Sterger has since hosted lots of other sports TV shows, but none for ESPN, despite some sketchy meetings and auditions, like that time she was supposedly invited to an interview with the network and then invited "to a club" after the interview. Guess what kind of club it was? Yep. "I had to watch as my male coworkers got lap dances from girls while they teased me about how I was uncomfortable," Sterger recalled on Twitter (via Fox News). The next day, male bosses allegedly chastised Sterger for going to the strip club because "it was a bad look for the company" and sent her on her way. Later, Sterger reportedly went to ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn. to inquire about a gig. She said that the "interview" consisted of employees "asking me if I had hooked up with 'so and so' etc. or 'this person' or 'that person.'"

Ya herd what Cowherd did?

Colin Cowherd fashions himself as an outspoken sports talk personality with "hot takes" that you can't even handle, man. On a July 2015 episode of his ESPN Radio show "The Herd" (because his name is "Cowherd," get it?), he dissed baseball, as well as the notion that it's a "complex" sport. "It's too complex? I've never bought into that 'baseball is too complex.'" Cowherd said. Then he added, "A third of the sport is from the Dominican Republic." (Wait a second, did Cowherd just imply that baseball is simple because lots of Dominican guys play it — and that they all must be stupid? ) 

This particular hot take was not hotly received. Dominican Republic-born, six-time All-Star Jose Bautista tweeted to Cowherd: "Before i rip you a new one i would like for you to explain what u meant to say about baseball and [D]ominicans, please." Major League Baseball released a statement calling Cowherd's remarks "inappropriate, offensive, and completely inconsistent with the values of our game." The League also demanded an apology to "players of Dominican origin, and Dominican people generally." 

Cowherd did issue that apology, saying that he "did not intend to offend anyone" and that his "choice of words was poor and not reflective of who I am." Nevertheless, ESPN gave him the boot.

Rush's racist rant rushed Rush out

Conservative talk show host and political firebrand Rush Limbaugh joined ESPN's "Sunday NFL Countdown" in 2003. That September, Limbaugh declared during a broadcast that Philadelphia Eagles star quarterback Donovan McNabb was overrated. Limbaugh is certainly entitled to his opinion, although he may have been objectively wrong. At the time, McNabb had been named to three Pro Bowl squads, led the Eagles to two NFC title games, and placed second in league MVP voting. Also, Limbaugh probably shouldn't have said why he thought McNabb got as much praise as he did. 

"I don't think he's been that good from the get-go. I think what we've had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well," Limbaugh said on TV (via ESPN). "There is a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn't deserve." ESPN defended Limbaugh in a "sorry, not sorry" statement, backing up the commentator's assertion that his comments had "no racist intent." Nevertheless, a few days later, Limbaugh reportedly quit "Sunday NFL Countdown."

Did the network take it easy on sexual harassment?

Mike Tirico loves all of the sports. He has covered pre-game, post-game, and halftime broadcasts for a variety of sports for ESPN since 1991, including soccer, basketball, tennis, and golf, all with a calm, authoritative, even-handed approach. Off-screen, however, Tirico has the reputation of a full-on creep. 

According to Mike Freeman's book, "ESPN: The Uncensored History" (via the Daily Beast), Tirico made working at ESPN in the early '90s a nightmare for several women. At a 1992 house party, he allegedly hit on a production assistant and followed her around, which made the woman so uncomfortable she left ... only to find Tirico blocking her car. When she rolled down her window to tell him to get out of the way, he stuck his hand into and car and "attempted to put one of his hands between her thighs," the book reported. 

According to Freeman's book, after allegedly barraging another producer with emails announcing his desire to sleep with her, the then-engaged Tirico approached the woman outside a bar and said things we're not reprinting here. He then allegedly tried to follow her home. When news of that incident made its way around ESPN, at least six women reported Tirico to company brass, who suspended the broadcaster for three months.

Jemele Hill is not a Celtics fan

People really don't like Adolf Hitler, so you are courting controversy if you compare someone to one of the most evil men who ever lived (just ask Kanye West how his adulation of Der Führer has gone for him). In 2008, ESPN on-air personality Jemele Hill did just that in an opinion piece she wrote, boasting the inflammatory headline, "Deserving or not, I still hate the Celtics." In her original column, Hill claimed it's bizarre to root for dynastic teams that have had abundant success, such as the Boston Celtics. Here's how she illustrated that point: "Rooting for the Celtics is like saying Hitler was a victim. It's like hoping Gorbachev would get to the blinking red button before Reagan."

After doing major damage control, that passage was later cut out of the piece, and Hill apologized for her "thoughtless and insensitive" remarks. That was the last thing she wrote for "Page 2" for a while because ESPN subsequently suspended her.

Jemele Hill is not a Donald Trump fan

The tense atmosphere before, during, and after the 2016 election left Americans more politically active and outspoken than possibly ever before, and that emotion has bled into the usually neutral world of sports. For example, during the 2017-18 NFL season, many players "took a knee" during the National Anthem to protest police brutality. Another example: "SportsCenter" host Jemele Hill didn't mince words when weighing in on President Donald Trump on Sept. 11, 2017. Hill unleashed a tweet storm, calling Trump "a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself w/ other white supremacists," as well as "the most ignorant, offensive president of my lifetime," among other things (via Detroit Free Press).

Hill soon apologized — not for what she said, but for how she said it. "My regret is that my comments and the public way I made them painted ESPN in an unfair light," she said. The White House wanted Hill fired, but ESPN let her off without punishment ... that time. About a month later, she asked her Twitter followers to boycott companies that advertise with the Dallas Cowboys because owner Jerry Jones threatened to bench players who "took a knee" during the national anthem. This time, Hill took a two-week suspension.

The 'E' in ESPN stands for 'exploiting' Erin Andrews

ESPN personality Erin Andrews was surreptitiously videotaped in a Marriott Hotel in Nashville in 2008 by a man named Michael David Barrett, who then posted naked footage of Andrews online. According to "Us Weekly," he pulled off his terrible deed by requesting a room next to Andrews and carving a peephole for his camera. Barrett received a two-and-a-half-year sentence, and Andrews also filed suit against him and the hotel. Not only did the sportscaster have to endure all of that, but in a legal proceeding related to the case in 2016, Andrews testified that her employer, ESPN, exploited her, too.

"My bosses at ESPN told me, 'Before you go back on air for college football, we need you to give a sit-down interview. And that was the only was I was going to be allowed back," Andrews testified, alleging the network forced her to publicly discuss the traumatic events, seemingly in an effort to milk the story. Andrews said her higher ups even recommended said interview take place on "Good Morning America" "because ESPN and ABC are the same," meaning both are owned by Disney. Andrews chose to be interviewed on "The Oprah Winfrey Show," because she felt Oprah would handle the situation with the most sensitivity and tact. Even so, the sportscaster reportedly developed a rash and broke into tears before the interview because she was so distraught about the situation.

Curt Schilling shared crass ideas on Facebook

Curt Schilling had a stellar pitching career, highlighted by a performance in the 2004 ALCS that propelled the Boston Red Sox to its first World Series title in more than 80 years. (He threw the ball in Game 6 with an increasingly bloody sock.) After Schilling retired, he became a baseball analyst for ESPN, but unlike many other media figures, the guy freely shared his political opinions. That landed him in hot water in August 2015, when he was suspended after tweeted a meme that compared Muslim extremists to Nazis. But that didn't slow his roll.

In a radio interview in 2016, Schilling said Hillary Clinton "should be buried under a jail somewhere" because of her email scandal. A few weeks later, he posted a photo on Facebook of a large man wearing a wig, captioned: "LET HIM IN! to the restroom with your daughter or else you're a narrow-minded, judgmental, unloving racist bigot who needs to die." (You know, some real nuanced satire.) Schilling then wrote alongside the picture, "A man is a man no matter what they call themselves. I don't care what they are, who they sleep with, men's room was designed for the penis, women's not so much. Now you need laws telling us differently? Pathetic." ESPN thought Schilling was the pathetic one. The network released a statement that read, "Curt Schilling has been advised that his conduct was unacceptable and his employment with ESPN has been terminated."

This man is not a Confederate general

This is the tale of ESPN trying really hard to prevent a scandal ... and failing. In the summer of 2017, the city of Charlottesville, Va. decided to remove an old statue of Civil War Confederate General Robert E. Lee. That triggered a heated "Unite the Right" rally of far-right-wing demonstrators and counter-protestors. The tense situation turned fatal when a man drove his car into a group of counter-protesters, killing one woman and injuring 19.

Charlottesville is also home to the University of Virginia, and soon after the protests, the school was set to host its first home football game of the 2017 season, broadcast on ESPN. In a mildly amusing coincidence, the network had assigned sportscaster Robert Lee to cover the game. That Robert Lee is not the same person as Gen. Robert E. Lee, seeing as how the latter died in 1870, but ESPN didn't want to take any chances, preferring to avoid any potential connection to the tragedy in Charlottesville. It offered Lee a reassignment, and according to Richard Deitsch of "Sports Illustrated," Lee was "more comfortable" covering a game in Pittsburgh instead. Some thought that decision demonstrated political sensitivity gone too far, but ESPN spokesman Derek Volner said the choice "felt right to all parties" because they didn't want to prompt any jokes, memes, or people pointing out the name similarities — which is exactly what happened when news of the switch leaked.

A super shady Emmy scandal resulted in embarrassment

There's no greater honor in the world of television than winning Emmys — just as there's no greater shame than being forced to give 'em back when you're caught in a years-long scheme to scoop up awards you don't deserve. That's the situation in which ESPN found itself in early 2024 when The Athletic issued a bombshell report that detailed the whole nefarious plot. As the exposé pointed out, ESPN's "College Game Day" has won multiple Emmys over the years. Because the on-air people are ineligible for Emmy consideration, the show's producers came up with a clever way to garner statues for their stars, by submitting fake names of non-existent staffers boasting the same initials as the show's on-screen talent. When the show won, the producers would alter the nameplates on the Emmy statues and present them to the stars as if they'd won — which they actually believed they had.

When the scam was uncovered, 37 Emmys were returned — which proved hugely embarrassing for the ESPN personalities who had no idea they hadn't legitimately won them. "I think it was really crummy what they did to me and others," ESPN correspondent Shelley Smith told The Athletic. 

With egg on its face, ESPN responded in a statement, promising to root out the fakers and dole out appropriate punishment. "This was a misguided attempt to recognize on-air individuals who were important members of our production team," the statement declared.

ESPN's president resigned in disgrace over cocaine blackmail

The combination of cocaine and blackmail isn't typically one that springs to mind when contemplating ESPN — yet both were at the center of network president John Skipper's resignation in 2017. In a statement he issued upon quitting, Skipper revealed that he'd been struggling with a drug problem, which had placed him in the crosshairs of an unscrupulous coke dealer looking to extort him. "I have struggled for many years with a substance addiction. I have decided that the most important thing I can do right now is to take care of my problem," Skipper said in his statement (reported by Fox News).

He divulged more sordid details in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. "In December, someone from whom I bought cocaine attempted to extort me," Skipper revealed. Not only was that a sobering threat, but it also forced him to a crossroads: he either kept living a double life under constant threat of being exposed or came clean. He chose the latter, informing his boss — Disney CEO Bob Iger — of the situation; he and Iger agreed it was best for everyone if he resigned.

According to Skipper, losing the best job he'd ever had was the wake-up call he needed. "I acted very foolishly," he told THR. "It made me want to seek help and get this out of my life."

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

The superstar producer who was arrested on peeping-tom charges

While the average viewer may not be familiar with Neil Goldberg, the ESPN motorsports producer was pretty legendary in the industry for coming up with the genius idea of affixing cameras to the guys working in NASCAR pit crews — which he admitted had been inspired by the iconic "Monkey Cam" on "Late Night with David Letterman," in which a camera was strapped to a chimp who ran untethered through the studio.

Goldberg's career came to a screeching halt when he was arrested on charges of public indecency in 2010. According to a report from NBC Connecticut, a woman was walking her dog in a suburban neighborhood when she saw Goldberg standing on a stool outside a window, peering in while doing something to himself that really should remain behind closed doors. When Goldberg turned himself into the police, he confirmed that he was not — in the parlance of "Seinfeld" — master of his domain.

ESPN subsequently cut ties with Goldberg, announcing that his employment with the network had been terminated. Interestingly, all the charges against Goldberg were later dropped. As motorsports site reported (via Sports Media Watch), because Goldberg had "never admitted guilt and there was no finding of any criminal wrongdoing," prosecutors felt they didn't have enough to build a case, and decided to let it go.

Steve Phillips' extramarital affair with an ESPN production assistant

Former New York Mets general manager Steve Phillips was employed as an ESPN baseball analyst when a scandalous 2009 story in the New York Post caused his world to implode. According to the Post, Phillips had been engaged in an extramarital affair with Brooke Hundley, a 22-year-old production assistant who was nearly 25 years his junior. When he broke it off, she allegedly terrorized him and his family, including phoning his wife, reaching out to his son online, and even leaving a letter on his porch (a move that went awry when her car crashed into a stone column while attempting to flee the property). Phillips became so concerned that he involved the police. "I have extreme concerns about the health and safety of my kids and myself," he said in a statement to cops.

The bad press was too much for ESPN, and Phillips was shown the door. "His ability to be an effective representative for ESPN has been significantly and irreparably damaged, and it became evident it was time to part ways," the network declared in a statement to The New York Times.

Phillips entered sex-addiction treatment and subsequently gave a mea-culpa interview to the "Today" show. "I made some mistakes," he said, as reported by ESPN). "I'm fully responsible for what I did. His wife filed for divorce, had a change of heart, and then filed again.

NFL Analyst Sean Salisbury got the axe after displaying raunchy pics of himself

NFL quarterback-turned-analyst Sean Salisbury was an ESPN staple when a weird rumor about him surfaced in 2007. It all began when CBS Sportstline columnist Mike Freeman published a blind item about an unnamed football analyst who'd been suspended for showing various women a photo of his genitalia. Deadspin then stepped in, identifying Salisbury as the culprit. The ex-athlete proclaimed his innocence but was subsequently fired by ESPN. He then launched a lawsuit against Deadspin, alleging defamation. 

The whole thing cratered when the rumor ultimately turned out to be 100% true. "I was ashamed, and I didn't want to say anything," Salisbury told USA Today (via CBS News) in 2010. "I thought it would go away and let my ego get in the way ... A stupid mistake can cost you, and this has really cost me." Cost him it did — interviewed by the New York Daily News in 2012, Salisbury revealed he'd gone into a downward spiral after being fired, with the combination of constant pain from old NFL injuries and the loss of his lucrative ESPN gig sending him into a deep depression. "I'm a walking train wreck," Salisbury confessed. "The past few years have been a rough, rough time. I hit rock bottom physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially all at the same time."

Salisbury eventually bounced back, hosting his own radio sports show in Houston.

The sexual harassment lawsuit that rocked Cold Pizza

"Cold Pizza" was one of ESPN's earliest success stories, with the sports channel's first-ever live morning show arriving back in 2003. As "Cold Pizza" consultant Steve Friedman told Sports Business Journal, the show bucked the trend of most morning shows by targeting male viewers. "Morning shows have been feminized," Friedman said, "and that's what makes room for a show like 'Cold Pizza.'"

Not surprisingly, the same macho boys-club attitude displayed on-camera spilled over behind the scenes. That was the allegation of makeup artist Rita Ragone, who sued in 2008 over allegations of sexual harassment. According to Ragone, "Cold Pizza" stars Jay Crawford and Woody Paige had created a hostile working environment for her. In addition, she alleged that Paige had a tendency to get handsy, and had once seized hold of her buttocks so aggressively it sent her flying forward. Paige insisted he was innocent, and that Ragone was making it all up. "This suit is without merit, and we deny the allegations," stated ESPN representative Mike Soltys.

When her case went to court, the suit was dismissed. That, however, had nothing to do with the veracity of Ragone's claims, but because she'd signed a document when she was hired in which she'd agreed to take any sexual harassment claims to an ESPN arbitrator before suing — which she hadn't. In any case, ESPN had already axed "Cold Pizza," replacing it with an entirely different format.

Around the Horn's Jay Mariotti was arrested for domestic violence

Jay Mariotti was a panelist on ESPN's "Around the Horn" until being let go in 2010. The reason: he was arrested on charges of domestic violence and stalking. As the Los Angeles Times reported, Mariotti managed to avoid jail time by pleading no contest; instead, he was sentenced to 90 days of community service and five years of probation, along with a mandatory domestic violence course lasting a full year. 

That close brush with the law should have taught Mariotti a lesson, right? Not exactly. In a strange turn of events, on the same day that he entered that no-contest plea — which included a judge's to stay away from his ex — he confronted her again. This time, things allegedly became ugly when he took her phone from her while shouting, and then reportedly yanked a hunk of hair out of her head during their argument. This time, a judge ruled that he'd be standing trial on three felony charges: stalking, corporal injury to a spouse or cohabitant, and assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury.

Most of the charges were subsequently expunged, and Mariotti was eventually hired as a sportswriter for the San Franciso Examiner. "If people take the time to investigate the finality of this case, they will understand what truly happened and not judge me from false, reckless allegations from four years ago," Mariotti told the San Francisco Chronicle.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

ESPN fired Paul Shirley for boneheaded comments about Haiti's earthquake victims

After ending his NBA career, former power forward Paul Shirley — who played for the Phoenix Suns, the Chicago Bulls, and the Atlanta Hawks — was hired by ESPN to write a blog. It all went horribly wrong in 2010 when he decided to share his two cents about the Caribbean nation of Haiti, which had just been hit by a devastating earthquake that injured an estimated 220,000 people and left more than 1.5 million without their homes. "I haven't donated a cent to the Haitian relief effort. And I probably will not," the ex-athlete wrote in a since-deleted post for a non-ESPN site (as reported by the CBS News). As Shirley explained, his reasoning mirrored why he didn't offer handouts to the homeless he'd encounter on the street, believing they'd do nothing "constructive" with the money they'd receive.

He concluded his piece with an open letter to Haiti, offering his advice on rebuilding after the earthquake damage. "Could you not resort to the creation of flimsy shanty- and shack-towns? And could some of you maybe use a condom once in a while?" he wrote. 

Outrage and backlash predictably followed, and ESPN cut ties immediately. "The views [Shirley] expressed on another site of course do not at all reflect our company's views on the Haiti relief efforts," the network said in a statement. "He will no longer contribute to ESPN."

Baseball Tonight host Adnan Virk was fired for leaking confidential ESPN info

ESPN anchor Adnan Virk's star was on the rise at the network until it all came crashing down. In February 2019, the New York Post reported that Virk had been fired and escorted out of ESPN's offices by security, no less. The reason: He was accused of leaking confidential ESPN info on more than one occasion. "Adnan Virk no longer works at ESPN," ESPN vice president Josh Krulewitz said in a terse statement to the Post. 

Virk issued his own statement to the Post, insisting he was entirely innocent. "Suffice it to say, that I believe that I did nothing wrong that would justify my termination, and I categorically deny that I leaked any confidential or proprietary information," he said. Virk also criticized the media's reporting of his firing and said he was consulting with his lawyers regarding how best to handle the situation. "Much of what has been reported about my termination from ESPN is false and, I think, defamatory," he stated.

The DAZN cable channel subsequently hired Virk to host a baseball show. He went on to host Major League Baseball's "MLB Tonight" and then embarked on a brief stint as a pro-wrestling announcer for "WWE Raw" — which only lasted for six weeks, at which point both he and WWE mutually agreed to his exit.

Harold Reynolds was fired over a hug — and sued ESPN over it

Sexual harassment of varying degrees has been at the heart of many an ESPN scandal. That was seemingly the case in 2006 when former baseball player Harold Reynolds was fired from ESPN over accusations he'd sexually harassed a female staffer. According to the New York Post, the former Seattle Mariners star insisted he'd done nothing that warranted losing his job. "This was a total misunderstanding," Reynolds declared. "To be honest with you, I gave a woman a hug and I felt like it was misinterpreted," he said, adding that he was anxious to sit down with the powers that be at the network so he could explain the situation and hopefully get his job back.

That never happened, so Reynolds took ESPN to court, seeking $5 million for being wrongfully dismissed. In 2008, ESPN settled with Reynolds. "This was a matter of principle," he said in a statement to The New York Times. "I stood on principle and didn't waver ... Now I can put this behind me and concentrate on the game I love."

In 2014, Reynolds was vindicated when Fox announced that he and sportswriter Tom Verducci would be joining Joe Buck to replace Tim McCarver in the booth to cover the World Series. "I just wanted to get back working," Reynolds told the New York Daily News. "I could have never imagined this ending up with the opportunity to do the World Series."