SBD/January 4, 2011/Media

ESPN's Ron Franklin Apologizes For Comments To Jeannine Edwards

Franklin Had A Previous Incident With ESPN's Holly Rowe In '05

ESPN college football announcer Ron Franklin "apologized Monday for comments to colleague Jeannine Edwards that got him pulled from Saturday's radio broadcast" of the Oklahoma-Connecticut Fiesta Bowl, according to Michael McCarthy of USA TODAY. Franklin in a statement said, "I said some things I shouldn't have and am sorry. I deserved to be taken off the Fiesta Bowl." Edwards in an e-mail yesterday said that Franklin, during a production meeting before the Chick-fil-A Bowl, called her "sweet baby" and "a--hole." She added that a "colleague reported the incident to ESPN management" (USA TODAY, 1/4). In DC, Paul Farhi notes the Franklin incident is the "latest in a long string of episodes in which ESPN hosts have demeaned or engaged in sexual-harassing behavior toward the Disney-owned network's female employees." ESPN last year suspended "PTI" co-host Tony Kornheiser for "critical comments he made on his local radio program about 'SportsCenter' host Hannah Storm's clothes." In addition, baseball analysts Harold Reynolds and Steve Phillips lost their jobs at ESPN in '06 and '09, respectively, for incidents with female colleagues. But Dan Lebowitz, Exec Dir of Northeastern Univ.'s Sport in Society program, said that "despite its track record, ESPN is no more hospitable to harassing behavior than other male-dominated workplaces." Lebowitz believes that "ESPN 'has sent a message' that such conduct won't be tolerated by firing or suspending employees whose behavior crossed the line" (WASHINGTON POST, 1/4). In Orlando, Shannon Owens noted this is Franklin's "second run-in" with a female co-worker, following an '05 incident with sideline reporter Holly Rowe. Owens: "A one-time violation is a mistake and warrants a warning. A second time violation deserves a harsher punishment, but if this is allowed to happen again, then Ron Franklin needs to go" (ORLANDOSENTINEL.com, 1/3).

WE'VE GOT SOME THINGS TO TALK ABOUT: SI.com's Richard Deitsch noted Don Ohlmeyer's 18-month tenure as ESPN Ombudsman is "scheduled to end next month, and should he write a final column or two, he won't have to look far for issues." The Franklin-Edwards exchange was the "second high-profile incident involving an ESPN on-air talent recently." The network last week suspended ESPNews anchor Will Selva for "plagiarizing several sentences of a Lakers story" published in the Orange County Register. Deitsch added, "The question remains whether ESPN (or Ohlmeyer) will investigate Selva to determine if this was a one-time occurrence or part of a pattern of plagiarism. Traditionally in newspapers, other staff reporters would be assigned to investigate such transgressions. It will be interesting to see where ESPN goes with this in the days ahead" (SI.com, 1/3).

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