Former college football television analyst Craig James sued Fox Sports on Monday for religious discrimination, saying the network fired him two years ago for expressing his views against gay marriage while running for the U.S. Senate.
Scott Grogin, senior vice president of communications for Fox Networks Group, responded to the lawsuit late Monday in a statement sent to the Dallas Morning News.
"The decision had nothing to do with Mr. James' religious beliefs and we did not discriminate against Mr. James in any way," he wrote. "The allegations are baseless and we will vigorously defend ourselves against them."
Grogin also repeated the network's stance made in a statement last year: that James was fired "based on the perception that he abused a previous on-air position to further a personal agenda."
In 2009, when James was a college football analyst for ESPN, he accused then-Texas Tech coach Mike Leach of mistreating his son Adam, a receiver for the Red Raiders. Leach, who was fired during the scandal, filed a defamation suit against James and ESPN, but it was dismissed.
James was hired by Fox in August 2013, months after he lost the Texas Senate primary. Days later, he was fired. Fox later issued a statement saying James was not "properly vetted" before being hired by regional executives.
But as stated in the suit filed Monday in Dallas County, James feels he was fired "because of his religious beliefs about marriage and his expression of those beliefs during a debate when James ran in the Texas Republican primary for United States Senator."
During that 2012 debate, James said that he thinks homosexuality is a choice and that gay people "are going to have to answer to the Lord for their actions. We should not give benefits to those civil unions."
James is being represented in the lawsuit by Texas-based Liberty Institute, which contends that Fox has publicly stated that James was fired for his views on marriage.
“We just asked ourselves how Craig’s statements would play in our human resources department,” a Fox spokesman said at the time of his firing. “He couldn’t say those things here.”
James said in a prepared statement Monday: "This case is much bigger than me. It affects every person who holds religious beliefs. I will not let Fox Sports trample my religious liberty. Today, many people have lost their jobs because of their faith. Sadly, countless are afraid to let their bosses know they even have a faith. This is America, and I intend to make sure Fox Sports knows they aren’t above the law.”