ESPN allegedly used pseudonyms for College GameDay talent in order for the on-air personalities to win Emmy awards that they were not eligible for. Allegedly, the scheme involved the insertion of fake names into entries by ESPN and then altering the trophies and presenting them to the hosts. Pseudonyms with the same initials as the real names of the hosts were allegedly used. The report indicates that this practice has occurred since at least 2010, with fake names appearing as recently as 2020. College GameDay had won eight Emmys as an outstanding weekly studio show between 2008 and 2018, but the on-air talent was not allowed to be included in the credit list for that specific category due to NATAS guidelines.
NATAS identified fictitious credits submitted by ESPN to multiple Sports Emmys competitions, and ESPN took steps to take responsibility for the actions, returning the statuettes issued to fictitious individuals, and committed to implement further internal accountability and procedural changes. Additionally, ESPN wrote a statement to The Athletic, apologizing for the violations and the misguided attempt to recognize on-air individuals who were important members of their production team.
The NCAA disqualified senior leadership on College GameDay and the coordinating producer from future Emmy participation after 37 fraudulent trophies were returned. ESPN extended the practice beyond College GameDay, as indicated by an Instagram post from SportsCenter anchor Linda Cohn, which featured additional trophies in the background. ESPN claims that outside counsel conducted a full investigation and individuals found to be responsible were disciplined.