Liberty University, the evangelical Christian college run by Jerry Falwell Jr., has hired a disgraced former reporter who was fired for making racist remarks.
The reporter, Emily Austen, lost her job at Fox Sports in Florida in 2016 when she appeared on a Barstool Sports broadcast. In that appearance, she repeatedly called Cleveland Cavaliers player Kevin Love a “little bitch,” remarked that the “Chinese guy is always the smartest guy in math class,” and said she “didn’t even know that Mexicans were that smart.” She also discussed “Jews in Boca” who “bitched about everything” and were “stingy.”
The university announced the hiring Wednesday night on its Facebook page. Austen will join the staff of the university’s “Game On” sports program as an anchor and reporter. “This is much more than a second chance at my ‘dream career,’ ” Austen said in the university’s statement. “I am here to honor God, share the Gospel through athletics, and promote Liberty student-athletes, coaches and staff and their walks with Christ.”
Her hiring is the latest one by the university to involve officials who lost their jobs for offensive or neglectful actions. In 2016, Liberty hired Ian McCaw, who oversaw Baylor University’s athletic department during its infamous scandal involving athletes who committed numerous sexual assaults.
McCaw faced allegations he swept away reports of sexual violence by players and failed to protect women at the university from players who were known to be predators. Baylor’s Board of Regents told the Wall Street Journal in 2016 that 17 women had been the victim of assaults (including gang rapes) by 19 players since 2011, and a lawsuit alleged 52 rapes by 31 players between 2011 and 2014. The law firm Pepper Hamilton, which held an independent investigation of the program, found “a failure to … take action in response to reports of a sexual assault by multiple football players.” McCaw resigned in May 2016. Liberty hired him as its athletic director that November, even as he continued to defend himself against lawsuits.
In 2018, the university hired another college sports figure recently out of a job. Hugh Freeze, a man who made himself known as the most proudly evangelical Christian football coach in the NCAA, resigned from his position at Ole Miss in 2017 over a pattern of “moral turpitude.” It turned out Freeze had made numerous calls to escort services on a university-issued cellphone. The scandal was less serious than McCaw’s but still worth noting, given the university’s severe line on sex (and even drinking and dancing); students are not allowed to be alone with people of the opposite sex in classrooms or offices and are strictly banned from residence halls for the opposite sex. But then again, Falwell Jr. himself has been accused by multiple people of partying and sexual impropriety.