SBD/September 2, 2011/Media

College Football Reporter Bruce Feldman Slams ESPN After Leaving For CBS

Feldman claims ESPN restrictions prevented him from doing his job
College football reporter Bruce Feldman, whose reported suspension from ESPN in July "produced an uprising on Twitter, has joined CBS as a college football analyst," according to Richard Deitsch of SI.com. While ESPN has denied that it suspended Feldman for his role in former Texas Tech football coach Mike Leach's book, Feldman said network execs were "stopping me from being able to do my job." Feldman: "Let's put it this way, I was told not to blog, not to tweet, not to do any radio interviews. When I asked on that conference call (with ESPN officials), which was on a Thursday, about being scheduled to cover the SEC media kickoff in Alabama a week from then, I was told, 'No, you can't go.' The day after the conference call, when ESPN was claiming that there was no suspension, Chad Millman, the editor-in-chief of 'ESPN The Magazine,' actually added more restrictions." He continued, "What is unfortunate with all this is there was all this talk about whether I was suspended or not -- and ESPN spent so much effort to try to downplay that story -- but what is at the root of this is I was given permission to work with Mike Leach on the book." In response to Feldman, ESPN VP/Communications Mike Soltys said, "We have significant disagreements with his account. Beyond that, we are not commenting." Deitsch noted ESPN "let Feldman out of his contract early, which officially ended in September," so he could move to CBS (SI.com, 9/1).

HIS SIDE OF THE STORY: Asked Thursday morning what ESPN execs were "angry about," Feldman said, "I don't know. See, that's the thing. … You guys approved the book, you were told about it, you were told when there was a lawsuit going to happen. You were told about everything.” Feldman contends ESPN execs also "sent out a ‘do not book’ list to their talent producers," prohibiting him from appearing on network programming. Feldman then recalled a conversation with ESPN The Magazine Editor-at-Large Gary Belsky, who told the reporter, "We want to extend you for another three years, you'll get a raise." Feldman: "After that had happened, a week later I'm in Bristol and the three-year extension and the raise then all of a sudden became no extension, we'll offer you a one-year deal, no raise. Well something changed. There was some kind of disciplinary action that clearly was taken.” Syndicated radio host Dan Patrick, another former ESPN personality, said, "I know the feeling you're in and just so you know, it might get a little worse before it gets better because they fought me tooth-and-nail to try to put me out of business. Just understand that.” Feldman said, “In the last six weeks, I've seen what they are capable of. I'm glad I'm at a different place" ("The Dan Patrick Show," 9/1). Feldman added, "I’m leaving a place, at ESPN, where I had lost all faith in the management there" (WSJ.com, 9/1).
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