Around dinner time on Friday night, the upper management for CBS Sports and Turner Sports learned that basketball broadcaster Greg Anthony had been arrested inside a room at a hotel in downtown Washington, D.C., as part of an undercover operation targeting prostitution. Obviously, it was shocking news for both networks. According to the Washington Post, Anthony will be arraigned in court for the misdemeanor charge Feb. 3 and the maximum penalty, if convicted, is 180 days in jail. Working quickly and in conjunction with each other, executives at both places agreed on what they had to do heading forward. The following morning, Anthony was suspended indefinitely from his college basketball and NBA analyst jobs.
"Greg Anthony will not be working again for CBS this season,” said a CBS spokeswoman. “He has been suspended indefinitely."
“Greg Anthony has been suspended indefinitely,” said a Turner Sports spokesman. "We will have no further comments at this time."
Anthony, 47, now faces an uncertain future as a broadcaster. Asked how he viewed a possible return for Anthony next year, CBS Sports Sean McManus told SI.com on Sunday, “I’m going to stick with my statement right now.”
Asked why CBS and Turner had suspended Anthony indefinitely as opposed to fixed amount of time, McManus said, "I think on this one I’m going to stick with just our statement and nothing else at this point."
There are some who would argue the punishment is too harsh and perhaps it is. But Anthony forced the hand of his bosses and CBS and Turner Sports brass could not afford to have him as part of its college coverage during the NCAA tournament. In addition to calling games, CBS Sports and Turner Sports announcers perform high-profile public appearances at these events. Having Anthony there with solicitation charges over him is a PR headache few networks are going to endure.
There’s also the advertiser element. Some brands would be very uncomfortable with Anthony calling games in the near-term. There was very little debate between the top executives at both networks regarding the decision: Anthony is a talented broadcaster and well-liked at both places but he is not indispensable.
What’s next for CBS Sports and Turner Sports? The networks do not yet have a contingency plan for the Final Four and national title game and have now lost its top two college basketball game analysts (Anthony and Steve Kerr) in less than 12 months. The easiest short-term solution would be to move Clark Kellogg from the studio back to the game broadcast to work alongside Jim Nantz. That duo has years of experience working together including multiple Final Fours. Turner will want one of its own working the semis and finals so do not be surprised if Reggie Miller ends up in the Final Four or title game booth.
Is there a road back to broadcasting for Anthony? Perhaps. He was well-liked internally, with a reputation of doing all sorts of events (media and otherwise) when asked. Working NBA games will be an easier entry than college basketball given what I stated above. There are regional sports networks that would likely hire him if private vetting convinced them this would not happen again. Anthony apologized in a statement he released Saturday to the Associated Press.
"I made a mistake," he said. "With this lapse of judgment, I embarrassed many, including myself. I will work to regain the trust that I have lost, and the first step is saying that I am sorry."
THE NOISE REPORT
1. Fox’s coverage of the Seahawks’ overtime win over the Packers drew 49.8 million viewers, the most-watched program since last year’s Super Bowl. The game peaked at 60.5 million average viewers as the game went into overtime. That average viewership figure is down from last year’s game when the Seahawks win over the Niners drew 55.9 million, though that game was aired in primetime. The top local markets for Fox were Milwaukee followed by Seattle, Portland, Minneapolis and Indianapolis.
1b. CBS drew 42.1 million for New England’s blowout win over the Colts, well below last year’s 51.3 million for Denver’s win over New England. The game had the lowest overnight rating for a conference title game since 2009.
1c. Fox said its Conor McGregor-Dennis Siver UFC fight on FS1 Sunday night at 10 p.m. ET, heavily promoted during the NFC Championship on Fox, projects as the most-watched UFC event ever.
3. Interesting stuff from NFL executive vice president of media Brian Rolapp, who talked with MMQB’s Peter King about the prospect of Google one day airing NFL games.
3a. Tony Verna, who invented instant replay for sports television in 1963, died last week at 81.
4. HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel profiles NBC Sports analyst Cris Collinsworth Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET. The show also features correspondent Carl Quintanilla traveling to Beijing to interview former NBA-er Stephon Marbury.
5. ESPN’s strategy for live news conferences remains frustrating. The network pulled out of Rex Ryan’s introductory press conference in Buffalo last week for a roundtable discussion with some NFL talking heads. On Monday they repeated that strategy by leaving a live John Fox press conference in Chicago to show old Patriots highlights. (ESPN execs will argue they pull away from live pressers on busy news days.) Both Fox Sports 1 and the NFL Network stayed with Fox for the duration and if you interested in live newsmakers, I’d recommend those channels over ESPN at this point for NFL news conferences.
5a. If you have never heard this, I really recommend listening to this 2007 call from the Paul Finebaum Show on racism and the capacity to change.