ESPN is pulling longtime radio host Colin Cowherd off the air after he made comments that were deemed offensive to Dominican baseball players.
A 12-year veteran at ESPN, Cowherd appeared on television in addition to hosting the radio show The Herd. Cowherd announced earlier this week he is leaving ESPN for another opportunity, but the network said Friday that he would be removed from the air immediately.
“Colin Cowherd’s comments over the past two days do not reflect the values of ESPN or our employees,” ESPN said in a statement. “Colin will no longer appear on ESPN.”
The host came under fire Thursday for his comments on The Herd, saying, “I’ve never bought into that, ‘Baseball’s just too complex.’ Really? A third of the sport is from the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic has not been known in my lifetime as having world-class academic abilities. A lot of those kids come from rough backgrounds and have not had opportunities academically that other kids from other countries have.”
After his comments sparked outrage on social media, Cowherd argued in Friday’s show that his words were taken out of context and cited statistics to defend his position, according to ESPN.
“I could’ve made the point without using one country, and there’s all sorts of smart people from the Dominican Republic,” Cowherd said, later adding, “I understand that when you mention a specific country, they get offended… And for that, I feel bad. I do. But I have four reports in front of me … where there are discussions of major deficiencies in the education sector at all levels. … It wasn’t a shot at them. It was data.”
He later tweeted an apology, writing, “I did not intend to offend anyone w my comments. I realize my choice of words was poor and not reflective of who I am. I am sorry.”
Cowherd’s comments drew condemnation from Major League Baseball, the Major League Baseball Players Association, and at least one professional athlete.
Cowherd’s departure from ESPN marks the third major exit for the network this summer; Keith Olbermann‘s contract was not renewed this month, and Bill Simmons announced in May he is leaving ESPN after nearly 15 years.
Hear Cowherd’s offending comments — beginning around the four minute mark — in the video below.