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ESPN Fires Columnist As Questions Arise About Her Identity

2:25 PM, May 2, 2012   |    comments
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ESPN has fired Sarah Phillips, who was writing about sports gambling for the network's website, in the wake of a Deadspin story that questioned whether she was concealing her real identity.

Phillips purported to be in her early 20s, and she became prominent rather quickly. About a year ago she began writing for Covers.com and then a few months later went to work for ESPN's Page 2, which has since morphed into Playbook.

The Deadspin story follows several threads but the gist of it is that the website questioned whether photos accompanying Phillips' columns were actually of her, since there were inconsistencies.

Also, Deadspin posed the possibility that Sarah Phillips didn't really exist, and that her columns were created by a ghost writer who was using her persona.

Deadspin's story also questions whether the people who hired Phillips at ESPN ever really met her.

On Phillips' Twitter page, she has posted these recent tweets:

    "I never wanted to be in sports media. It just happened. I concealed my identity so I wasn't a 'gambler' to future employers."

    "I made poor choices with who to trust. I'll correct that moving forward. It's not an excuse."

    "My avatar is me. My YouTube video is me. I enjoyed my time with ESPN. They were great to me."

    "I have severed ties with many people today. I need a new circle. I need to get back to being a 22-year-old."

An editor at Covers.com, Jon Campbell, told Deadspin he continues to have questions about some aspects of Phillips' work, though he didn't give specifics.

Said Campbell: "It was months ago that she wrote for us and things are still coming up . . . I'm not one to believe where there's smoke there has to be fire. We were hearing so many crazy things and there was a lot jealousy where a girl was coming in and having success in the sports-betting field."

Campbell told Deadspin he had several phone conversations with Phillips but that they never met in person.

"There wasn't anything that convincingly showed me that she wasn't who she said she was," he told Deadspin. "And if I'm wrong, we'll be embarrassed and ESPN will be embarrassed."

Covers.com is a partner of USA TODAY Sports. We've reached out to executives there, but haven't heard back.

USA Today

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