Mike Hill says he was told he was ‘too ghetto’ for promotion at ESPN

The former sports anchor opened up about his past at the network when discussing the current controversy surrounding Maria Taylor and Rachel Nichols

Mike Hill has opened up about his past at ESPN. In a recent television appearance, he shared that the culture was “different” there, and detailed a story in which he was told he was “too ghetto” to get a promotion.

As theGrio previously reported, ESPN has been in the headlines lately after the intense controversy surrounding sports journalist Maria Taylor.

Rachel Nichols, ESPN’s NBA correspondent and host of The Jump, who is white, was heard on a 2020 ‘hot mic’ video made public this year, insinuating that ESPN was giving Taylor a plum assignment to improve their diversity agenda.

Taylor broke her silence on social media earlier this week, writing that though she has taken some punches, she is “still in the fight.” Now other former employees of ESPN are calling out the network for their workplace culture, including Hill.

Juneteenth 'Celebration of Truth' Community Festival Hosted By Black News Channel In Atlanta's Historic Castleberry Hill Neighborhood
ATLANTA, GEORGIA – JUNE 18: BNC “Start Your Day” Host Mike Hill at the Juneteenth ‘Celebration of Truth’ Community Festival hosted by Black News Channel in Atlanta’s Historic Castleberry Hill neighborhood on June 18, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Black News Channel)

On The Black News Channel, Hill said it was suggested that he was “too ghetto” to get a promotion at the esteemed network.

He explained, “I did work there for nine years and uh, it’s sad that when I worked there, there was a certain culture that existed at ESPN. Look, I will give them credit for being a worldwide leader. I probably wouldn’t be in the position I am today if it wasn’t for those four letters being on my resume.”

He continued, “At the same time, I did realize that I did experience a culture at ESPN that…maybe exists in other places. The sad thing about ESPN is that it can be such a great utopia, but at times it isn’t, and a lot of times the accountability factor is select accountability.”

“There are times where I would do things or I would say things and I would get in trouble for it, and my colleagues who didn’t look like me would say the same things and they would be praised for it,” he shared. “There has not been one Black person that has been on the air that I can think of that has not gone through hell at ESPN.”

ESPN’s Rachel Nichols (left) apologized to colleague Maria Taylor (right) on-air after assertions she made last year were made public. (Photos by David Becker/Getty Images and Steve Jennings/Getty Images for ESPN)

He continued, “When I was there, I was told, in a meeting with a talent executive, they said, ‘the reason you’re not moving up here at ESPN is because you’re too ghetto.’ This is from an executive, a talent executive there, an old white man…”

Hill then lists the array of Black talent who have gone through the network, including the late Stuart ScottStephen A. SmithJemele Hill, and more. He says Scott, who was known for his popular phrases like “Boo-ya” and others was deemed the resident ‘ghetto’ anchor, according to Hill. 

“Anybody that has gone through there, there has been some sense that you have gone through some sort of hell at ESPN. I’ll just put it down like that, and it needs to change.”

Comparing ESPN with how ABC “cleaned up their culture” (both networks share Disney as their parent company), Hill detailed his journey since leaving the sports network. 

“People gonna look at me and say, ‘you know what Mike you’re just bitter…[but] I left ESPN eight years ago and I moved on.”

Watch Hill tell his story below:

Have you subscribed to theGrio’s podcast “Dear Culture”? Download our newest episodes now!
TheGrio is now on Apple TV, Amazon Fire, and Roku. Download theGrio today!