We can't say for sure why Harold Reynolds was fired from ESPN yesterday, because ESPN hasn't put out a statement or anything (and they don't have to), but we can tell you what the chatter in Bristol is: Everyone is hearing sexual harassment. Every single email we've received from the inside about this today has used those very two words.
Again, nothing concrete on this. But that is definitely what they're whispering in Bristol. Some highlights:
• Thirdhand info, but I'm told it's sexual harassment. There were allegations of inappropriate actions between him and female PAs on a couple different occasions, so I'm not entirely shocked.
• It's apparently sexual harassment, but no one knows who the victim was. It went down over the course of the weekend.
• I have on good authority that HR was fired for all things, hitting on girls. Allegedly, this has been going on for a while. The last straw was when a new PA was having none of what Harold had to offer and turned him in.
• Harold Reynolds was fired more or less for copious amounts of sexual harassment. Apparently, he brazenly hits on female employees constantly, despite the fact that his wife just had a kid six months ago. He was warned by the big-wigs on numerous occasions to cool it with the ladies, but someone finally lodged a complaint, and he was canned immediately.
• It's very difficult to get fired from ESPN. It takes multiple offenses ... they're usually so worried about getting sued for unlawful termination that people are suspended multiple times for the same repeated behavior before it finally comes to getting fired. Within the walls of the campus, there are only a few on-air talent guys that had an honest reputation as being overly friendly with the ladies, and HR was one of them.
So anyway, that's what they're saying on the Bristol campus. But since ESPN doesn't have to say anything — in-house or otherwise — and neither does Reynolds, we might never know for sure. (No announcement, we're told, has been made to the staff.) That's what they're saying, though; we didn't receive a single email suggesting anything but that.
But that's not what we're saying, because we don't know. To be clear.
Say Goodnight, Harold [Deadspin]
(UPDATE: Another reader, with "contacts on the inside," refutes the sexual harassment whispers: "Anyone who is saying sexual harassment either has been given bad third-hand info or is lying. Harold has had a couple of rather heated arguments with the producers at "Baseball Tonight," and some of the suits at ESPN over the program's coverage of Alex Rodriguez. At the last production meeting, when it was made clear they were going to really play up the A-Rod angle during coverage of the Yankees-Texas series, Harold had a colossal meltdown, which led to his dismissal. The sexual harassment allegations are even more laughable when you consider that he is being replaced by Steve Phillips — a man who has never met a skirt he wouldn't chase and who was caught in one of the more embarrassing front office sexual harassment scandals in MLB history."
True? Not true? This, like the rest of it, just reinforces our point: We don't know. And the longer ESPN pretends like nothing happened, like they're a corner shop with three employees, believing this stuff can possibly remain private, the more talk there will be. Still, this is the lone "it's not sexual harassment email" we've received.)
(THIRD UPDATE: And now Newsday has confirmed it as well.)