ESPN has disciplined members of its staff who worked for years to secure Emmys for on-air personnel who were not normally eligible for the awards by using fake names and entering them in various categories, according to an investigation by The Athletic.
The probe found that ESPN has for more than a decade inserted fake personnel names in entries to win more than 30 Emmys, then took the awards, removed the fraudulent nameplates and had the statues engraved anew so they could be given to on-air staff. Among those who were given the ill-gotten awards are Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso, Chris Fowler, Desmond Howard and Samantha Ponder. Much of the activity seems to center around “College GameDay,” the Disney-backed sports-media outlet’s very popular college-football program.
“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. This was a misguided attempt to recognize on-air individuals who were important members of our production team,” ESPN said in a statement. “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.” ESPN said outside attorneys were brought in to investigate the matter and “individuals found to be responsible were disciplined by ESPN.”
The plan was discovered by NATAS, the governing body behind the Emmys, according to The Athletic. NATAS investigated the matter and then alerted ESPN, which conducted its own probe. The fraud was discovered by NATAS, which prompted an investigation by that organization and later by ESPN. The Athletic reported that, Craig Lazarus, vice president and executive producer of original content and features, and Lee Fitting, a senior vice president of production who oversaw “College GameDay” and other properties, were among ESPN employees that NATAS ruled ineligible from future participation in the Emmys.
More to come….