ESPN suspends Jemele Hill over tweet suggesting boycott of Dallas Cowboys' advertisers

ESPN suspended “SportsCenter” host Jemele Hill on Monday for violating the sports network’s social media policy.

The suspension was in reaction to Hill’s tweets that were critical of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’ announcement that players would be benched if they did not stand during the national anthem.

"Jerry Jones also has created a problem for his players, specifically the black ones. If they don't kneel, some will see them as sellouts," she wrote.

In a second tweet, Hill said, "If you strongly reject what Jerry Jones said, the key is his advertisers. Don't place the burden squarely on the players."

ESPN found the comments in violation of its social media guidelines. Hill had already run afoul of them when she called President Trump a white supremacist. Hill was disciplined by ESPN management, but not suspended. She apologized for having “painted ESPN in an unfair light.”

However, the network decided to take action after Hill’s tweets about the Cowboys.

“Jemele Hill has been suspended for two weeks for a second violation of our social media guidelines. She previously acknowledged letting her colleagues and company down with an impulsive tweet. In the aftermath, all employees were reminded of how individual tweets may reflect negatively on ESPN and that such actions would have consequences. Hence this decision.”

Hill, 41, is the co-host of the 3 p.m. PDT “SportsCenter” with Michael Smith. The duo was elevated to that program in February as part of a move to bring more personality and opinion to the network’s signature program.

The program was scheduled to be off Monday, as the network aired its pregame show for “NFL Monday Night Football.”

After Hill’s Trump tweet, ESPN President John Skipper said in a memo that the network has “social media policies which require people to understand that social platforms are public and their comments on them will reflect on ESPN. At a minimum, comments should not be inflammatory or personal.”

While ESPN has tolerated political discussion from its hosts, especially as Trump has emerged as a divisive issue, the Walt Disney Co. unit has shown less patience with overt attacks on the NFL.

In 2014, former ESPN commentator Bill Simmons was suspended for three weeks after harsh criticism of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s handling of Ray Rice’s domestic abuse case.

stephen.battaglio@latimes.com

Twitter: @SteveBattaglio


UPDATES:

4:35 p.m.: This article was updated with additional details about Hill’s suspension.

This article was originally published at 1:15 p.m.

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