FOX Sports president Jamie Horowitz out 'effective immediately'

Jamie Horowitz is out at FOX Sports.

Horowitz, the president of national networks, has been fired less than a week after being interviewed as part of an investigation by parent company 21st Century Fox into allegations of sexual harassment at Fox Sports, according to a source with knowledge of the investigation.

The Los Angeles Times was first to report that 21st Century Fox was investigating sexual harassment allegations at Fox Sports.

In an internal email first obtained by Sports Business Daily’s John Ourand, president, chief operating officer and executive producer Eric Shanks informed employees that Horowitz, the president of national networks, was 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,” Shanks said.

Shanks’ email suggested that Horowitz’s sudden departure was related to a conduct issue.

“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,” Shanks said. “These values are non-negotiable.”

“The way Jamie has been treated by Fox is appalling,” Horowitz’s lawyer, Patty Glaser, said in a statement to Philly.com. “At no point in his tenure was there any mention by his superiors or human resources of any misconduct or an inability to adhere to professional conduct.”

“Jamie was hired by Fox to do a job, a job that until today he has performed in an exemplary fashion,” Glaser continued. “Any slanderous accusations to the contrary will be vigorously defended.”

Daniel Petrocelli, who is representing Fox Sports, responded to Glaser’s comments in a statement to Philly.com: “Mr. Horowitz’s termination was fully warranted and his lawyer’s accusations are ill-informed and misguided.”

FOX Sports declined to comment further.

Until a replacement is named, Shanks will step in to handle Horowitz’s responsibilities, which include overseeing programming on FS1 and FS2 and managing FoxSports.com.

Just last week, Horowitz made the controversial decision to eliminate several writing and editing positions from the Fox Sports website, replacing all sports journalism from the homepage with short video segments coming from the network’s television programming.

College football writer Stewart Mandel, who was among the writers who lost their job last week, offered his thoughts on the sudden dismissal of Horowitz.

Horowitz, who joined Fox Sports in 2015, hadn’t been shy about making big changes to the network. He quickly shifted the network’s lineup to place more emphasis on opinion, creating shows for former ESPN personalities Colin Cowherd, Skip Bayless, and Jason Whitlock. The moves also resulted in cutbacks to the network’s television news operations and the elimination of updates during its shows.

Horowitz’s sudden departure also places new focus on Katie Nolan, whose Emmy Award-winning show, Garbage Time, was canceled by the network. The network has been largely silent about Nolan’s role with FS1 since February, and there have been reports that ESPN has tried to lure her away.

Horowitz began his career at NBC Sports before joining ESPN in 2006, where he spent years as an executive developing opinion-based debate shows such as First Take and SportsNation. NBC hired Horowitz away from ESPN in 2014 to run the popular Today show, but fired him after just three months after proposing major changes to the program which included dropping lead co-anchor Savannah Guthrie.

Here is the full email, sent by Shanks to employees Monday morning:

Dear Colleagues:

 

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.

 

Best,

 

Eric