Following University of Washington’s 21-16 loss to Auburn two weeks ago, ESPN announcer Mark Jones accurately tweeted that the team “took one on the chin.” He also wrote, “Where’s Montana?” referencing an ESPN broadcast from last season when the Huskies were lightly ribbed for having a “cupcake” non-conference schedule.
It’s an extremely mild tweet, but Washington, evidently a university for and by weenies who expect announcers to say only glowing things about their school’s football team, got upset about it. According to the Mercury News, which filed a public records request for the emails, the university complained about the tweet to ESPN. They got a response from ESPN Vice President Nick Dawson, who emailed UW athletic director Jen Cohen to say Jones’s tweet was “childish behavior that is unacceptable,” and that Jones—who was not even in the booth for this particular game—would “not be assigned to any further Washington games.”
From the Mercury News:
Dawson’s email to Cohen was sent Sept. 3, the day after Jones’ tweet. He copied Pac-12 deputy commissioner Jamie Zaninovich and two senior ESPN officials, Lee Fitting and Pete Derzis.
“Frustrating and disappointing to us on so many levels,” Dawson wrote.
In the email, Dawson also said, “Frustrating and disappointing to us on many levels. Especially given the positive interactions our ABC crew had with he staff and program this past week (a great example of how the partnership can/should work on both sides).”
This isn’t ESPN’s first brush with sensitive Huskies. Last year, ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit said Washington “should be thanking” ESPN for showing its games at all after Washington head coach Chris Petersen complained about the Huskies’ broadcast schedule. But here, not only is an ESPN exec saying that Jones’s tweet was out of line (it wasn’t), he’s admitting that the network owes friendly coverage to the teams it airs. Of course, coming from the same network that has eagerly rolled over for the NFL, this isn’t much of a surprise.