ESPN HR Position – Dream Job or Career Nightmare?

Kris Dunn Angela Dunn

I’m married to Kris Dunn, the HR Capitalist.  And every year, around this time, I hear the same thing:

“I’d give it all up tomorrow for a flunky job learning the ropes in an NBA front office.  You’d still love me if I made 20K, right?  We could all live in a trailer 2 hours outside of LA while I climbed the NBA career ladder with the Clippers”.  Blah, blah, blah…

Of course, the chances of that are slim, so I tolerate the annual ritual.  However, KD is gaining connections, and there’s one combo of sports and HR that might hit for him like a Vegas jackpot. Here’s what I reallly worry about him cominghome and saying:

Honey, we’re moving to Bristol.  That’s right, I’m taking a job in the HR shop of ESPN.  It’s gonna be great“.

The career gods could rain down on KD and he could get his foot in the door for a prominent HR position at ESPN – you know “the whole worldwide leader in sports” network.  This would be his dream job, right? First, he, like many of you, LOVES sports. Second, he’d be working in his chosen field (HR and Talent) with well known, qualified, talented, on-air personalities and equally qualified journalists and technical gurus behind the scenes who make it all happen.  Consumate professionals, right?  Who wouldn’t jump at the chance?

Not so fast, says MRS. CAPITALIST.  Instead of bailing on his current day job, he might want to seriously reconsider.  In fact, he might want to Run, Forest, Run, as far away from ESPN as he could get.

The way things are looking at ESPN right now, they might soon be changing their slogan to “worldwide leader in sex scandals.”  Just in the past few years, there have been enough to keep any HR pro and the legal department buried in the fine print of employment contracts and swimming in sexual harassment claims.  I realize any big employer is going to have to deal with the occasional “quid pro quo” or “hostile work environment” issue, but wouldn’t you agree that those poor HR schlumps over at ESPN have had to deal with more than their fair share?

Take a look at the history according to Deadspin, the New York Post and various other cited sources.

Top 5 ESPN Alleged Sex Scandals of the Decade:

1.  Steve Phillips – ESPN Baseball Tonight’s co-anchor (married father of 4) who was just ousted a couple of weeks ago for having an affair with a 22 year-old on the ESPN production staff.

2.  Erik Kuselias – ESPN radio personality, who sometimes sits in as a guest host on Mike and Mike in the Morning, who reportedly made sexual comments and advances to another ESPN employee at a party.

3.  Jason Jackson – former host of NBA 2Night fired from ESPN in 2002 for making comments and sending e-mails with sexual overtones.

4.  Kate Lacey (a Sr. Marketing VP at ESPN) admittedly having an affair w/ David Bernson (VP of Programming)

5.  Harold Reynolds who was a baseball analyst for ESPN but was fired in 2006 after at least 5 different women complained of his sexual inappropriateness.  There was a wrongful termination lawsuit that followed alleging racial bias.  What a mess!

Ok, here comes the disclaimer:  Of course, I can neither confirm nor deny (that’s the attorney in me slipping out) whether all of this stuff is 100% true or not, but regardless, the allegations have been made and your fellow HR peeps there have to deal with them.  Plus, ESPN seems to do what it needs to do when these things break rather than giving a slap on the wrist.

And although I wouldn’t necessarily label myself as the jealous type (nor has KD really given me any reason to be), what wife wouldn’t be a little (OK, maybe a lot) concerned to see her spouse go to work in such a cesspool?  I mean – the first time KD calls home and tells me he has a late meeting or a business trip out of town with some co-workers, visions of Steve Phillips and his 22 year-old cohort would probably be dancing in my head.  With that kind of workplace environment, who could blame me right?

Ultimately, although it might be his dream job, or at least a stepping stone on the way to it, KD doesn’t need the drama, and neither do I.   At least at your shop, whether it is the Hormel plant in Dubuque, Iowa, or a Kroger grocery store in Galveston, Texas, whatever happens doesn’t make the headlines at every major news outlet.  Be glad for that.