During the September 5 ESPN football broadcast between SMU and Texas Tech, ESPN sideline reporter Holly Rowe reported on-air that new Red Raider football coach Tommy Tuberville had already made an enormous impact in his fundraising for the school.
(*Judge Smails Voice* “IT WAS AN HONEST MISTAKE!”)
With information reportedly obtained from Texas Tech, Rowe claimed that the coach who most recently replaced Mike Leach had already raked in tens of millions in donations for the school.
Rowe’s report seemed to indicate that Texas Tech fans were finally getting over the wildly unpopular departure of Leach which TTU’s own attorneys have stated in public documents was necessary because of legal threats against the school by ESPN college football announcer Craig James.
If only ESPN’s report of Tuberville’s fundraising efforts were true. Or even close.
Here’s the entire exchange on the ESPN telecast on September 5 between Rowe and ESPN announcers Mark Jones and Bob Davie:
Mark: Welcome back, everyone, to Lubbock, Texas, and a look at the new athletic facilities on the campus of Texas Tech.
Bob: Tremendous facilities. These are first-class facilities.
Mark: Let’s go down stairs to Holly.
Holly: You see the new facilities, the university told me yesterday that the financial impact of tommy tuberville, has been $25 million, he’s been out fund-raising. When you see that Texas Tech logo, it might just mean Tommy Tuberville now. $25 Million!
Mark: Put his initials on anything he raised.
And the audio from Rowe’s report:
Based on school financial documents obtained by a public relations firm via the Freedom of Information act, ABC TV affiliate KCBD in Lubbock reported this week that Rowe’s reported Tuberville fundraising figures were off by an astounding 95 percent:
Texas Tech says in October 14th letter to Hodges that it has no document to back a $25 million claim and does not know where the information came from.
That same letter says “Tommy Tuberville participated in events that raised $500,000 for new practice field turf, $250,000 for locker room updates, and $500,000 for weight room updates.”
Of course, none of this is on Rowe. She was merely reporting what she was told by a Texas Tech representative.
This afternoon I contacted ESPN to give Rowe a chance to reveal her source and perhaps explain the discrepancy.
I’ve yet to hear back from Bristol but will post whatever response I may receive.
As James is a big reason Leach was ousted, opening up the TTU football gig for Tuberville, many may regard ESPN as a willing participant in what appeared on Sept. 5 to be Texas Tech attempting to prop up Tuberville’s early tenure with propaganda.
But unless James himself gave Rowe the false info, I’m inclined to believe that ESPN wasn’t party to the concerted disinformation campaign by the same Texas Tech administration now under fire for terminating Mike Leach.