ESPN Apologizes for Submitting Fake Names in Emmy Awards Scam

BRISTOL, Connecticut – ESPN has issued an apology to the organization overseeing the Sports Emmy Awards for submitting fraudulent names in categories where they were ineligible to win. In a statement released on Thursday, the network acknowledged that certain team members had wrongly entered names dating back to 1997 that were not qualified for recognition or accolades.

The Athletic, an online sports publication, initially exposed the Emmy scam. According to their report, ESPN personalities like Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso, and Desmond Howard from “College GameDay” were awarded honors they did not deserve. However, there was no indication that the on-air winners had any knowledge of this misconduct.

The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, responsible for administering the Sports Emmy Awards, detected the fraud through an investigation, prompting ESPN to initiate their own inquiry.

ESPN admitted their wrongdoing by stating that their actions aimed to acknowledge on-air individuals who played integral roles in their production team. The Athletic’s report outlined that on-air talent were not eligible to be included among those credited for the Emmy category of outstanding weekly studio show. While hosts, analysts, and reporters on the show could receive individual awards, they were prohibited from “double-dipping,” according to the academy’s regulations.

To bypass this rule, false names were submitted with the same initials as on-air hosts and reporters. These fictitious names, such as Kirk Henry (representing Kirk Herbstreit), Lee Clark (representing Lee Corso), and Dirk Howard (representing Desmond Howard), appeared on credit lists as associate producers.

Examining credit lists from the years when “College GameDay” won the best weekly show award (2010-11, 2014-18), The Athletic found several phony names. The individuals responsible for this fraudulent activity remain unidentified, but ESPN employees Craig Lazarus, Lee Fitting, and Drew Gallagher were banned by NATAS from participating in future Emmy competitions.

The academy confirmed that ESPN had submitted multiple false credits for consideration in various Sports Emmy competitions. ESPN senior management promptly addressed these issues after being informed and took appropriate action, including returning the statuettes given to fictitious individuals.

ESPN enlisted the services of external counsel to conduct a comprehensive investigation once they were made aware of the scam. The network statement noted that the responsible individuals faced disciplinary measures imposed by ESPN.

In conclusion, ESPN has apologized to the Sports Emmy Awards organization for their submission of fraudulent names in categories where they were ineligible for recognition or awards. An investigation conducted by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences led to ESPN launching its own probe. ESPN has taken corrective steps, returning the falsely awarded statuettes and disciplining those responsible. The individuals involved in this misconduct have been barred from future Emmy participation.