- Following allegations that Pete Rose had sex with a women in the 1970s before she turned 16, Fox Sports will face backlash if he re-appears on the network.
Pete Rose has been an unexpected surprise as a postseason MLB studio analyst for Fox Sports. Partnered with Alex Rodriguez, Frank Thomas and host Kevin Burkhardt, Rose found his voice as part-baseball wonk, part-crazy grandpa, and a full-time polarizing figure. The mixing of Rodriguez and Rose—two of the most polarizing forces in baseball but both baseball wonks—created authenticity in the studio and the free form of the show gave Fox its closest studio equivalent to TNT’s Inside The NBA and ESPN’s College GameDay. Last year the network posted a six-minute-and-26-second video of Rose giving hitting instructions (and telling batting stories) to fellow MLB studio analysts Rodriguez and Thomas. It was remarkable to eavesdrop on three hitters with a combined 9,939 hits and Fox Sports was rewarded with unheard-of social metrics for a studio show clip. The video has more than 20 million views on Facebook.
The quartet was expected to return this postseason but that seems highly unlikely now given Rose is accused of having a sexual relationship with a woman in the 1970's before she turned 16, according to court documents obtained by ESPN.com. In testimony as part of a federal lawsuit Rose filed last year against John Dowd, the woman alleged the relationship started when she was 14 or 15 years old. Rose has admitted to having a sexual relationship with the woman but said she was 16. Rose was 34 at the time and married with two children. He says he can't remember how long the relationship lasted.
Last week, a Fox Sports spokesperson declined comment to SI on Rose’s status at the network. Asked when Rose is next scheduled to appear on air, a Fox spokesperson said there is no current date for his next on-air assignment. SI legal expert Michael McCann said Rose's TV contract likely contains "morals clause" language that could be invoked to end his deal on grounds of statutory rape allegation.
Given the nature of his admission alone, the optics of keeping him on-air, as well as the plague of negative publicity surrounding Fox News, Fox Business Network and Fox Sports from sexual harassment complaints, Rose has likely made his last broadcast with Fox Sports. As Bill Reiter, a former Fox Sports broadcaster urged this week in a strong column, the network must move on.