ESPN Forced to Return 37 Emmys After Decades-Long Scheme Gets Busted

ESPN Forced to Return 37 Emmys After Decades-Long Scheme Gets Busted

ESPN will return dozens of Emmy awards that the company has acknowledged were handed to people who did not exist throughout the years and given to people who were not eligible to receive them.

According to an investigation that eventually made its way into the network, employees at the so-called “worldwide leader in sports” at times simply made up names and submitted those names for awards consideration, The Athletic reported.

The scheme was a way to help on-air personalities, who were not eligible to receive awards, collect trophies from the organization behind the annual Emmy Awards — the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Those who received the deceptively procured hardware were some notable names, most of them who work on ESPN’s “College Gameday.”

The show begins early on Saturday mornings and runs until each Saturday’s slate of games begins generally at noon ET.

Recipients who took home trophies and were asked to return them include Kirk Herbstreit, Chris Fowler, Desmond Howard and Samantha Ponder.

Another on-air personality fans of college football will know who held an award is a man who for years has made the final pick in each Saturday’s biggest respective matchup — Lee Corso.

The Athletic reported that veteran on-air reporter Shelley Smith received a call last March from network producer Stephanie Druley, who asked her to keep it between them.


The Athletic reported: “Druley said she wanted to talk about something ‘serious’ that needed to stay between the two of them, Smith recalled. She then told Smith that Smith needed to return two sports Emmy statuettes that she had been given more than a decade earlier.”

Smith worked at ESPN from 1997 until last July when her contract expired.

Coincidentally, 1997 was the same year in which ESPN employees reportedly began obtaining Emmy Awards for people who did not exist on behalf of people who had not earned them — 37 in total.

The awards were altered with the names of their eventual recipients.

The far-left network said in a statement to The Athletic that the scheme would result in disciplinary action for those responsible.

The network said, “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. 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.”

According to the report, “College Gameday” hosts ended up with many of the awards because hosts of the show were not eligible for Emmys until last year.

From 2010 until 2018, numerous hosts of the show were ultimately given awards that were meant for show producers who did not exist but who had fictitious names that matched the initials of those who took them home.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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