Speaking on the Dan Patrick Show on Monday, Costas criticized ESPN's alleged motives behind the decision, saying it was a "crass exploitation play."
"It strikes me that awarding the Arthur Ashe award to Caitlyn Jenner is just a crass exploitation play. It’s a tabloid play. In the broad world of sports, I’m pretty sure they could have found — and this is not anything against Caitlyn Jenner — I’m pretty sure they could have found someone who was much closer to actively involved in sports, who would have been deserving of what that award represents."
Jenner, formerly known as Bruce Jenner, announced her name and made her public debut as a woman last week in an article appearing in Vanity Fair. Despite Jenner's status as an Olympic gold medalist in the decathlon at the 1976 Olympic Games, many pundits have criticized ESPN's decision to give her its Arthur Ashe Courage Award at next month's ESPYs.
Costas said he isn't trying to belittle the significance of Jenner's accomplishment. However, he feels there are other people in the sports world who may be more deserving of recognition. He said he believes ESPN is just trying to draw attention to itself.
"That’s not to say that it doesn’t take some measure of personal courage to do what Caitlyn Jenner has done, but I think that every year we look across the landscape of sports, and we find prominent people and kids in high school and amateur athletes who I think more closely fit the description of what they’re looking for or should be looking for there," Costas said.
"And I think this is a play to pump up audience the way lots of things are put on television, to attract eyeballs, not because of the validity, but because of whatever the kind of gawker factor is."
The ESPYs will take place at the Microsoft Theater on July 15.