The University of Florida paid ESPN broadcaster Stephen A. Smith $26,500 to speak to students Wednesday night.
Considering his stature as one of the most visible ESPN personalities, one would expect Stephen A. Smith to draw a sizable speaking fee. But $26,500? For a broadcaster who was suspended one week in July for making insensitive comments in the aftermath of the Ray Rice suspension?
That's what the University of Florida paid Smith to address students Wednesday night in Gainesville, Deadspin reports. Since a student organization, ACCENT, paid Smith, his contract for the address at the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts is a public record.
According to The Alligator, Smith shared his thoughts on creating a brand and finding success in corporate America, and urged students to "understand the world they are living in and act accordingly." He also addressed his public reputation, saying, "I don't believe I'm negative,” Smith said. "I believe I'm real."
Smith also addressed his suspension from the ESPN show First Take, which stemmed from him saying, "We also have to make sure that we learn as much as we can about elements of provocation" regarding victims of domestic abuse. From The Alligator:
After an audience question about journalists being censored by networks, Smith spoke at length about his recent weeklong suspension by ESPN after his on-air comments about Ray Rice’s domestic violence situation.
Smith said he chose his words poorly but did not think he deserved to be suspended after his comments.
“Under no circumstances should you put your hands on a woman,“ he said at the event.
- Mike Fiammetta