ESPN Forced to Return 37 Emmys After Scheme is Busted

Joe Seer /
Joe Seer /

We all like to be appreciated for our work, right? But what if you were given awards not meant for you? Would you still feel valued at work?

This is what has apparently been happening at the world renown sports news network ESPN for decades now.

According to an investigation into the network and its leadership, The Athletic reported that ESPN has apparently been handing out actually Emmy awards given to people who don’t exist so its team members could be recognized for their good work.

The so-called “worldwide leader in sports” apparently made up names with the same initials of team members and hosts who were not eligible to receive such awards and then submitted them for consideration to the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences or NATAS. When those fake names won, the network would then give the actual awards to team members who never really earned them.

It seems that most of the deceptive awards were given to hosts of ESPN’s “College Gameday” show. Members such as Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard, Chris Fowler, and Samantha Ponder have all been awarded Emmys over the years, as has the well-known Lee Corso.

Shelley Smith of The Athletic was made aware of the scheme last March when she received a call from network producer Stephanie Druley. Druley informed Smith that Smith had been given such an award, two of them actually, during her time at ESPN, from 1997 until her contract expired last July. Smith was also told that she would have to return the Emmys.

In a statement to The Athletic, ESPN said 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 ensure nothing like this happened again.

In total, 37 falsified Emmys have had to be returned, going all the way back to 1997.

I’m sure recipients aren’t feeling quite as appreciated as before.