ESPN has fired sports announcer Ron Franklin after he allegedly referred to ESPN sideline reporter Jeannine Edwards as “Sweet Baby” in a production meeting prior to the network’s airing of the Chick-fil-A Bowl Friday.
According to SporstByBrooks.com, who broke the story, the meeting included ESPN announcers Ed Cunningham and Rod Gilmore in addition to Edwards and Franklin and during the course of conversation the topic of Rod Gilmore’s wife Marie Gilmore being elected mayor of Alameda, California came up. From SportsByBrooks:
As Gilmore, Cunningham and Franklin discussed the subject, Edwards tried to join the conversation.
When she did, Franklin said to her, “Why don’t you leave this to the boys, sweetcakes.”
Edwards responded to Franklin by saying, “don’t call me sweetcakes, I don’t like being talked to like that.”
Franklin then said, “okay then, a–hole.”
Jeannine Edwards later clarified that Franklin had actually called her “Sweet Baby” and not “Sweet Cakes” in an email to to Game On!’s Michael McCarthy. Here is the revamped story straight from Jeannine and Game On!:
Edwards says she was talking with Gilmore about his wife being elected mayor of Alameda, California. After a few minutes, she said Franklin joined in the conversation and said, “Listen to me sweet baby, let me tell you something . . . ” with a condescending tone.
Edwards says she told Franklin not to address her like that. To which Franklin said, according to Edwards: “OK, then listen to me a-hole.”
She says she told Franklin she didn’t appreciate his attitude — and asked why he was stooping to such levels. Florida Sate head coach Jimbo Fisher then arrived and they proceeded with the meeting. Edwards and Franklin both worked the game.
Afterwards, a colleague reported the incident to ESPN management, she said. SportsbyBrooks said ESPN tried to pull Franklin from the Chick Fil-A coverage that night but didn’t have enough time. With the duo scheduled to work together again Saturday night, ESPN decided to pull Franklin from its Fiesta Bowl radio coverage. He was replaced by Dave LaMont.
Here’s a little Ron Franklin tribute from the late, great Jerry Reed as a little interlude from all the verbage:
ESPN addressed the incident in an official statement Monday:
“We’re not going to get into specifics other than to say adhering to our personal-conduct policies and showing respect for colleagues are of the utmost importance to our company and we take them extremely seriously.”
And they also offered up an official apology from Franklin:
“I said some things I shouldn’t have and am sorry. I deserved to be taken off the Fiesta Bowl.”
The firing ends Franklin’s 23-year relationship with ESPN and is just the latest in a long string of alleged sexist conduct by their male reporters, including an incident in 2005 in which Ron Franklin referred to reporter Holly Rowe as “sweetheart” during a broadcast. (Heh heh – “broad”cast!”) (Oh, and heh heh – “Chick”-fil-A Bowl for that matter!) Franklin later apologized to Rowe and no known action was taken by ESPN at the time.
If you want to know more about all the chauvinist shenaniganry that has gone on at ESPN over the years be sure to check out Mike Freeman’s book ESPN: The Uncensored History.