Fox Sports has responded to the lawsuit filed by Craig James against it for religious discrimination, a story Breitbart Sports broke earlier today.
“As we have previously stated,” the network highlighted in a statement, “Craig James is a polarizing figure in the college sports community and the decision not to use him in our college football coverage was based on the perception that he abused a previous on-air position to further a personal agenda.”
The network fired James from his position as a college football analyst in 2013 after just one Saturday in front of the cameras. The termination, the network holds, “had nothing to do with Mr. James’ religious beliefs.”
But the lawyers at the Liberty Institute suing Fox Sports on behalf of the former SMU and New England Patriots running back released statements and emails from Fox employees drawing attention to James’ talk on the campaign trail about his belief in the Christian conception of marriage.
“This story is about 18 months old, but Richard Deitsch from Sports lllustrated is dredging it up in light of FS Southwest hiring Craig James for studio work,” Fox Sports public relations vice president Chris Bellitti emailed Fox executives, including Randy Freer, the head of all of the broadcasting behemoth’s channels. The August 30, 2013 email links to a Deadspin story highlighting James’ position on gay marriage, and notes, “Craig James was a familiar target for Deitsch and Deadspin when he was [at] ESPN and afterwards when he was running for Senate in Texas.”
He concluded, “It bears keeping an eye on.” Two days later, James’ brief run at Fox Sports concluded.