Just before midnight tonight, Sports Illustrated published a story about Chip Kelly being considered for the head coaching position left open at Ole Miss after Hugh Freeze’s resignation last week. One problem—the report that their story was based on was fabricated, courtesy of a fake Pat Forde account on Twitter.
That Twitter handle, you might notice, has an extra “o” in Yahoo. It uses the same avatar and bio as the real Yahoo Sports reporter, but a very cursory glance at the account reveals that it’s not the actual Pat Forde—before tonight, the account had last tweeted in 2014, and those tweets were about photos just posted to Facebook rather than college sports. This account currently has fewer than 250 followers, while the real Forde has more than 330,000.
But SI ran a few paragraphs on the rumor anyway, attributing it to Forde and linking out to the fake account. (Until SI’s post, the tweet hadn’t gotten much traction—fewer than three dozen retweets.) The post was under the byline of Khadrice Rollins and went up at 11:59 p.m.
Less than 15 minutes after the story was published, USA Today reporter Dan Wolken called them out on it:
Sports Illustrated deleted the tweet promoting the story within minutes of Wolken’s tweet, but the story itself is still up.
Update (1:55 a.m. ET): Sports Illustrated has now removed the story, without a note. The URL which formerly held the story now simply says “Sorry, the page you’re looking for can’t be found.” A screenshot of the story as it was originally published is below: