ESPN Apologizes for Emmy Award Scam Involving Fake Names: Investigation Unearths Fraudulent Recognition

BRISTOL, Connecticut – ESPN has issued an apology to the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) after it was discovered that the sports network had submitted fake names for consideration in categories where they were not eligible to win. In a statement released on Thursday, ESPN acknowledged that certain members of their team had wrongfully submitted names dating back to 1997, seeking recognition and statuettes in Emmy categories that they did not qualify for.

The fraudulent conduct was brought to light by The Athletic, a sports news outlet, which reported that ESPN personalities such as Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso, and Desmond Howard from the popular show “College GameDay” had received awards they were not entitled to. The report emphasized that there was no evidence to suggest that the on-air winners were aware of the scheme. Upon investigation, NATAS uncovered the scam, prompting ESPN to conduct its own internal probe.

ESPN admitted that the misleading submissions were an ill-advised attempt to acknowledge the importance of certain on-air individuals who were members of the production team. According to The Athletic, the Emmy categories explicitly disqualified on-air talent from being included in the credits for outstanding weekly studio shows. While hosts, analysts, and reporters on the show could receive individual awards, they were prohibited from “double dipping” or receiving recognition in both categories.

To circumvent these rules, ESPN submitted fake names with the same initials as the on-air hosts and reporters. Names like Kirk Henry (Kirk Herbstreit), Lee Clark (Lee Corso), and Dirk Howard (Desmond Howard) appeared on credit lists as associate producers, despite not actually contributing to the show’s production. The Athletic examined the credit lists for the years that “College GameDay” won for best weekly show and discovered several phony names included.

The identities of the individuals behind the fraud remain unknown. However, NATAS ruled that Craig Lazarus, the vice president and executive producer of original content and features; Lee Fitting, the senior vice president of production who oversaw “College GameDay” and other properties; and Drew Gallagher, a coordinating producer on “College GameDay”, would be ineligible for future participation in the Emmy Awards.

The academy confirmed that ESPN had submitted numerous fake credits across multiple Sports Emmy competitions. Once ESPN’s senior management became aware of the situation, they took responsibility, launched a thorough investigation, and made efforts to correct the matter. As part of their response, ESPN returned statuettes that had been issued to fictitious individuals.

ESPN enlisted the help of external legal counsel to conduct a comprehensive investigation once they became aware of the scam. The network stated that individuals found responsible have faced disciplinary actions. In conclusion, ESPN has expressed regret for the actions of their personnel and has taken steps to rectify the situation.

In a statement, ESPN acknowledged that certain members of their team had submitted fake names in Emmy categories where they were not eligible for recognition or statuettes. The sports network faced scrutiny after The Athletic reported that ESPN personalities had received awards they were not entitled to. The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences discovered the fraud and prompted ESPN to conduct its own investigation. ESPN returned the statuettes that had been issued to fictitious individuals. The network has taken disciplinary actions against those responsible for the fraudulent conduct.