After making an insensitive, controversial remark Thursday, radio host Colin Cowherd was taken off ESPN's airwaves permanently Friday.
Mike Soltys, ESPN vice president of corporate communications, issued a statement on Twitter announcing the decision:
Shortly after ESPN made the call regarding Cowherd's future, he sent an apologetic response on Twitter:
Cowherd came under fire Thursday when discussing the complexity of the game of baseball.
"Like I’ve never bought into that, 'Baseball’s just too complex,'" Cowherd said, according to the New York Times' Richard Sandomir. "Really? A third of the sport is from the Dominican Republic."
Cowherd addressed the situation on his show Friday, prior to his ouster, according to ESPN.com:
I could've made the point without using one country, and there's all sorts of smart people from the Dominican Republic. I could've said a third of baseball's talent is being furnished from countries with economic hardships, therefore educational hurdles. For the record, I used the Dominican Republic because they've furnished baseball with so many great players.
I understand that when you mention a specific country, they get offended. I get it. I do. And for that, I feel bad. I do. But I have four reports in front of me ... where there are discussions of major deficiencies in the education sector at all levels. ... It wasn't a shot at them. It was data. Five, seven years ago I talked about the same subject. Was I clunky? Perhaps. Did people not like my tone? I get it. Sometimes my tone stinks.
I think when you host a radio show, just like Jon Stewart hosts a show, I think sometimes I bring up stuff ... that makes people cringe. I'm not saying there's not intelligent, educated people from the Dominican Republic. I cringe at the data too.
After Cowherd's comments sparked outrage, the head of the Major League Baseball Players Association, Tony Clark, issued a statement regarding the inflammatory commentary, according to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal:
As a veteran of fifteen MLB seasons, I can assure you that our sport is infinitely more complex than some in the media would have you believe. To suggest otherwise is ignorant, and to make an ignorant point by denigrating the intelligence of our Dominican members was not “clunky” -- it was offensive.
These recent comments are particularly disappointing when viewed against the backdrop of the important work being done to celebrate and improve the cultural diversity of our game. Baseball's partners and stakeholders should help such efforts, not undermine them.
Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista—who hails from the Dominican Republic—was outspoken after hearing the audio:
Cowherd was already set to leave ESPN when his contract expired next Friday, per Sports Business Journal's John Ourand, but Thursday's comments accelerated his departure timetable.
Cowherd is expected to join Fox Sports, as The Big Lead's Ryan Glasspiegel reported July 16.
As Awful Announcing noted, Cowherd's dismissal has ramifications for both networks moving forward:
While ESPN came forward and issued a statement regarding Cowherd's remarks, Fox has yet to do the same.
Prior to Friday's proceedings, USA Today's Jorge L. Ortiz cited an anonymous source and reported, regarding the MLBPA, "the lack of response from ESPN—and Cowherd's future employer, Fox, has upset its members just as much as the comments, and they will consider withholding cooperation with the networks."
With Cowherd's 12-year run at ESPN officially over, it will be interesting to see how his prospective new employer handles this sudden controversy.