Fox Sports has fired president of national networks Jamie Horowitz, according to Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Horowitz has been targeted in a sexual harassment investigation started by 21st Century Fox less than a week ago. The company reportedly hired a law firm to complete the investigation, which has started to interview women, including on-air personalities, at Fox Sports about Horowitz’s behavior.
The announcement from Fox Sports President Eric Shanks was unexpected; in his memo, Shanks wrote that “we realize this news may come as a surprise for many of you, but we are confident in this decision.” Shanks said he will serve as Horowitz’s interim replacement until a new person is hired in the role.
A tipster passed along Shanks’s email, which can be read in full below. Of interest is Shanks’s reminder that all employees “should act with respect and adhere to professional conduct at all times.”
I regret to inform you that Jamie Horowitz, President of National Networks for FOX Sports, will be leaving FOX Sports effective immediately. We realize this news may come as a surprise for many of you, but we are confident in this decision.
Everyone at FOX Sports, no matter what role we play, or what business, function or show we contribute to — should act with respect and adhere to professional conduct at all times. These values are non-negotiable.
Until Jamie’s replacement is named, I am stepping in to handle his former responsibilities including programming, marketing and scheduling for FS1 and FS2, as well as digital. All of these functions will now report directly to me.
We understand how difficult this will be for many of you, but in these times it is important that we remain unwavering and focused in continuing the great work of FOX Sports.
Horowitz was responsible for the rash of Fox Sports shouting matches that have failed to build off the success he had in steering ESPN’s Embrace Debate era. His most recent action was an attempt to further push the company’s TV personalities on its website. Given that Horowitz’s firing comes one week after Fox Sports laid off roughly 20 writers as part of his strategy for the site to lean more heavily on video, this couldn’t have been planned.
UPDATE (5:45 p.m. Eastern): Sports Illustrated spoke to a source who worked at Fox Sports with knowledge of the sexual harassment claims. She told SI she was recently contacted by Fox’s HR department and recounted to them a story about a time she claims Horowitz tried to kiss her:
One woman who has worked in production at Fox Sports told Sports Illustrated on Monday that she spoke last week with HR officials for Fox Sports for more than an hour. She recounted a story of Horowitz attempting to kiss her at an offsite location last year. “I have been working in sports for a long time, and no one has ever been that bold with me,” said the woman, who asked that her name not be used. “I saw him at Fox one day, and he said he wanted to catch up. He said we could meet up to talk. The hook was that he could get me more work. Fox HR called me last week. They asked about what had happened. I gave some details and then called back and gave more details. To Fox’s credit they handed it quickly and really pro-active. They went out of their way to contact me.”
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This post was updated to include the L.A. Times report at 2:47 p.m. Eastern.