ESPN Fires Howie Schwab After 26 Years: Blames His Salary
In today’s dog-eat-dog world of corporations undercutting one another, tenure doesn’t mean jack. It’s a lesson Howie Schwab just learned the hard way. After 26 years with ESPN, Schwab received his pink slip as part of the company’s mass layoffs.
Best known as ESPN’s sports trivia expert, Schwab hosted the trivia show, “Stump the Schwab,” until 2006. But his career at the popular sports network went far beyond one program. After signing on a freelance researcher in 1987, Schwab was the coordinating producer for ESPN.com by 1995. He served as a coordinating producer for the network since 1998, assisting in the production of popular programs such as “Sports Center.” In ESPN’s “First Take,” Schwab was the resident Couch Potato, where he rated television sports program from one to five bags of chips. As recent as last month, Schwab hosted a trivia competition for college students, “The Schwab.”
Apparently, Schwab’s dismissal related to his salary, which may have been more than the network was willing to pay a personality who hasn’t hosted his own show in seven years. Schwab took to Facebook to air his grievances:
“ 26 years at ESPN, I am extremely disappointed to say farewell. I have been proud of my association and my work during my tenure. I was a loyal employee, displayed respect for others, worked with numerous charities, represented the company well. I always did everything asked of me and more. What did I get in return today … word that I should get lost. The only thing that mattered was my salary, which in my view was the lone reason I lost my job.”
Of course Schwab won’t be the only one let go from ESPN this summer. The network blames declining profit margins for its decision to eliminate hundreds of employees—its first mass layoff since 2009. ESPN blames the soaring cost of broadcast rights that eat into its profit margin.
Although the network already charges the highest subscription fees on cable, competitors—such as Fox Sports, CBS Sports and NBC Sports—are beginning to undercut ESPN and win bids for some major sports properties, including the English Premier League, World Cups and the Olympics. Although such broadcasting rights don’t closely compare with Monday Night Football, Major League Baseball and US Open Tennis, ESPN may see larger competition on the horizon.
By firing long-time staff such as Schwab—and replacing them with younger, cheaper workers—ESPN may be increasing its profit margins just enough to outbid its competitors and secure its legacy.
Still, Schwab will be missed, as demonstrated by a variety of sports personality’s Tweets:
It's a day later and I still can't believe @howieschwab was laid off. Hey I've got an idea , lets hire 3 more NFL analysts for Tebow Talk
— Joe D'Ambrosio (@JoeDSports) June 13, 2013
During my time at ESPN there was no Employee of greater value than Howie Schwab. This is the ultimate style over substance decision. Awful!
— Tim Brando (@TimBrando) June 12, 2013
So sad to learn that many good ppl like my buddy Howie Schwab have lost their jobs due to cost saving decisions- Wish Howie THE BEST!
— Dick Vitale (@DickieV) June 13, 2013
Latest post: What happened to loyalty? ESPN doesn’t show much in firing ‘The Schwab’ @howieschwab http://t.co/F6CTMXCGX9
— Ed Sherman (@Sherman_Report) June 13, 2013