ESPN earned 30+ Emmys utilizing pretend names for on-air expertise

Up to date Jan. 12: In line with a report by the New York Submit, ESPN’s former senior vp of manufacturing Lee Becoming’s dismissal was straight tied to the fake-name Emmy scheme.

Becoming, who was one of many three individuals barred from future Emmy participation, was let go by ESPN this previous summer time. The Submit’s Andrew Marchand reported that the Emmy trophy name-changing scandal was “a factor” in his dismissal. Becoming was named the WWE’s head of media manufacturing on Tuesday. 

ESPN used aliases for its on-air Faculty GameDay expertise so its on-air personalities might win Emmy awards they have been ineligible for, based on a brand new report.

The scheme — uncovered by the Nationwide Academy of Tv Arts & Sciences (NATAS) and reported by The Athletic — concerned the Worldwide Chief inserting the pretend names into entries, then having the trophies re-engraved and awarded to the hosts. This observe has gone on since at the least 2010, with pretend names showing as just lately as 2020, based on NATAS.

Kirk Herbstreit (Kirk Henry), Lee Corso (Lee Clark), Chris Fowler (Chris Fulton), Desmond Howard (Dirk Howard), Samantha Ponder (Steven Ponder), Tom Rinaldi (Tim Richard), Gene Wojciechowski (Gene Wilson), Chris F0wler (Chris Fulton) and Shelley Smith (Shelly Saunders) have been all allegedly given pseudonyms with the identical initials as their actual names, based on the report.

Faculty GameDay gained eight Emmys for excellent weekly studio present between 2008 and 2018. Nevertheless, on-air expertise was prohibited from NATAS pointers from inclusion within the credit score listing for that particular class. Whereas the present’s analysts and hosts might win particular person awards – i.e. excellent host, studio analyst, rising on-air expertise, and so forth., or accolades for particular person works – they may not take house trophies for a present’s collective award.

“NATAS identified a number of fictitious credits submitted by ESPN to multiple Sports Emmys competitions,” Adam Sharp, the org’s president and CEO, wrote in an e mail to The Athletic. “When brought to the attention of ESPN senior management, the network took steps to take responsibility for the actions of its personnel, to investigate thoroughly, and to course correct. These steps have included the return by ESPN of statuettes issued to fictitious individuals and commitments to implement further internal accountability and procedural changes at the network.”

The Athletic additionally discovered further pretend names that carefully resembled on-air expertise – Erik Andrews (Erin Andrews), Wendy Nickson (Wendi Nix), and Jenn Brownsmith (Jenn Brown) – however these names couldn’t be verified as direct pseudonyms. Nix did affirm she acquired an Emmy across the similar time her Nickson alias appeared on an Emmy credit score listing, claiming she had no concept it was improperly obtained and that it simply arrived in the principle in the future.

As for why ESPN would pull this ruse, “You have to remember that those personalities are so important, and they have egos,” an individual concerned within the ESPN Emmy submission course of lately stated, through The Athletic.

Whereas 37 fraudulent trophies have been returned, there is a sign that ESPN might have prolonged this observe past Faculty GameDay. When SportsCenter anchor Linda Cohn posted her outstanding daily studio show award on Instagram, it featured three further trophies within the background. 2023 was the primary yr Cohn was eligible to obtain an Emmy on this class earlier than, and NATAS confirmed to The Athletic that Cohn has solely gained a single Emmy.

“Some members of our team were clearly wrong in submitting certain names that may go back to 1997 in Emmy categories where they were not eligible for recognition or statuettes,” ESPN wrote in a press release to The Athletic. “This was a misguided attempt to recognize on-air individuals who were important members of our production team. Once current leadership was made aware, we apologized to NATAS for violating guidelines and worked closely with them to completely overhaul our submission process to safeguard against anything like this happening again.

“We brought in outside counsel to conduct a full and thorough investigation and individuals found to be responsible were disciplined by ESPN.”

Credit score fabrication is punishable by disqualification and the required return of trophies. Senior management on Faculty GameDay acquired a one-year disqualification from Emmy eligibility, based on NATAS. VP and govt producer of authentic content material and options Craig Lazarus, SVP of manufacturing Lee Becoming, and “College GameDay” coordinating producer Drew Gallagher have been additionally dominated ineligible from future Emmy participation.