Fox Sports isn’t going to get rid of former analyst Craig James easily or quietly.
Fox Sports Southwest hired James as an analyst and then fired him 48 hours later for what James believes is religious discrimination. James, through the Plano, Texas-based Liberty Institute filed a complaint to the Texas Workforce Commission claiming as much.
"That's like a sucker punch," James told the Associated Press on Thursday. "For someone to call you and offer you a job, praise your talents, your credentials, put you on the air the next day and fire you the following the day: That's like some kind of mean joke."
Fox Sports claimed that since regional executives hired James, he wasn’t properly vetted and that the network feels like James used his broadcasting position to advance his own agenda.
"Craig James is a polarizing figure in the college sports community and the decision not to use him in our college football coverage was based on the perception that he abused a previous on-air position to further a personal agenda," the network said in a statement Thursday.
Controversy does seem to follow James, who was an analyst with ESPN before quiting to run for U.S. Senate two years ago. He the drew the ire of former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach when he claimed his son Adam, who was on the team, was the subject of mistreatment. Leach was subsequently fired.
But James said his firing had nothing to do with his Leach and everything to do with his stance on gay marriage.
During a senatorial debate, James said he opposed gay marriage and that gay people would one day "have to answer to the Lord for their actions."
"It has nothing to do with Texas Tech," James said Thursday. "They want to try to confuse and get away from that, and those false statements that they're making do not hold water."
However, there’s little doubt that James bringing a claim against Fox Sports does promote an agenda of some sort. He said he wants to hold the network accountable for its actions, but he’s also putting himself back into the public spotlight where he's faded in the past couple years. He's also simultaneously currying favor for his religous beliefs especially in a time when sexuality and athletics are a hot-button topic.
If the Texas Workforce Commission sides with James, it could take action against the network or allow James to file his own lawsuit against his former employer.
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