Pete Rose has been a star addition to FOX Sports. His time on air, however, could soon end.
Rose, 76, is facing statutory rape allegations dating back to the 1970s. Rose admitted to having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old during his playing days – the age of consent in Ohio is 16 – but the woman claims her relationship with Rose began when she was 14.
Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch does not know if Rose, who is already serving a lifetime ban from baseball, can survive his latest scandal.
“Given the optics of Pete Rose admitting, even though it’s a long time ago, that as a 34-year-old man he had a sexual something with a 16-year-old, given that FOX is in the middle of massive sexual-harassment issues, including lawsuits – including the founder of Fox News, Roger Ailes, being part of some of the most impossible-to-believe situations that a corporate executive would have – and given that FOX has a zero-tolerance policy on all of this, my sense is that they can’t keep him on the air in 2017,” Deitsch said on CBS Sports Radio’s Reiter Than You. “That said, it seems to me – given that they no-commented me in terms of what they’re doing right now and when Pete Rose’s next assignment is – I do read that as maybe they’re going to try to play out the news cycle, try to let this thing die down, and then maybe bring him back in October and see what the reaction is.
“I think that is a very, very dangerous thing to try,” Deitsch continued. “I think FOX would be more wise to just sort of cut bait now, move on, and try to do the show with who they have now. There are some things where the statute of limitations, to me, sort of exist forever, and this is one of those situations. I don’t know how you try to pitch your baseball show to fathers of 16-year-olds or mothers of 14-year-olds when Pete Rose is on the air.”
Many people, of course, are outraged by the allegations, but if Rose and FOX can weather the storm in the coming months, it’s possible that outrage will subside.
“I think we have a short attention span in this country, as a general rule,” Deitsch said. “And I think the one thing that the Pete Rose defender will say is, ‘This happened 40 years ago. Who cares? Let this guy go on with his life.’”
Deitsch called that line of thinking “nonsense.”
“All you have to do is personalize it,” he said. “If it becomes your mother, if it becomes your sister, if it becomes your daughter, you think totally different, which is a fact. So yeah, they can play it out a little bit and they can push this another two months, but this is what I would say: Rose has admitted to having this relationship with the 16-year-old. The allegation is still out there from the woman who says she was 14. So to me, if you’re FOX, you’re playing a pretty dangerous game of roulette that if somehow that is proven in the public court of opinion, now you have put somebody on your airwaves who turns out to be part of . . . a criminal action.
“I know executives there personally like Pete Rose and they have really liked – understandably so – having him on that show,” Deitsch continued. “But within the course of this being 2017 and the optics that that presents and the fact that your larger organization continues to have people who have lost their jobs – and correctly so – because of sexual harassment, I don’t know how you keep Pete Rose. But the rules are different in sports for stars versus non-stars, and the rules are different for stars on television versus non-stars. Pete Rose will get more leeway here than if this was some FOX Sports update person who, I guarantee, would be gone already given the same scenario.”