ESPN addresses Sarah Phillips hiring, firing

ESPN executive vice president and executive editor John Walsh hosted an online chat Thursday and addressed the company’s decision to hire and later fire Sarah Phillips. Phillips was exposed this week by Deadspin as someone who was hired by ESPN to write for their “Page 2″ section despite having very little writing background. She leveraged her position with ESPN, and combined with a friend/partner, to allegedly scam several people. Her aim was to gain money/and or promotion via social media from her victims.

Walsh was supposedly “asked” a question about Phillips during his chat. Based on the way it was phrased, the question seemed planted by ESPN (or specifically chosen by them) so that they could formulate a response that wouldn’t make them look too bad. Let’s look at Walsh’s response:

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Sarah Phillips exists, used pictures of blond bombshell Ivy Smith for her identity

Sarah Phillips used pictures of other women and said they were her when “she” wrote a column for sports gambling website Covers.com. In case you’re new to the story, Phillips is someone who became popular in the Covers.com forums, parlayed that into writing a column for them, and then was hired to write for ESPN.com’s Page 2. Phillips was fired by ESPN after Deadspin exposed the alleged fraud and potential identity theft used by Phillips to get where she did. They exposed the multiple scams she allegedly ran.

One of the things Deadspin pointed out is that Phillips used different pictures as her identity in her writing debut for Covers. Strangely enough, some people have identified the pictures used by Phillips as an Oregon hairdresser named Ivy Smith.

The picture on the left is the one Phillips used in her Covers debut column. She has an arrow pointing to the blonde on the left and claims that’s her. On the right is a picture found in the Myspace profile of an Ivy Smith from Eugene, Oregon. The blondes seem to match, and the friend on the right seems to be the same one in both pictures.

The Ivy Smith Myspace profile (found by Lindsay Joy) shows a girl who went to Sheldon High School in Oregon from 2001-2005 and lists her occupation as a hairdresser. There’s also a LinkedIn profile for an Ivy Smith from Medford, Oregon who lists herself as an “Independent Writing and Editing Professional.” Do Smith and Phillips know each other? It’s possible — their time at Sheldon would have overlapped.

We’ve also found much more evidence that proves Sarah Phillips from Oregon does indeed exist. The photos of a young Sarah Phillips from Oregon match the photos that accompany the Sarah Phillips Twitter and ESPN Page 2 profiles.

Jeromy at The Sports Brewery found several pictures of Sarah Phillips playing basketball and soccer growing up. Below is one of her soccer team photos:

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Former ESPN.com writer Sarah Phillips addresses allegations by Deadspin exposé

The Internet was set ablaze Tuesday following the release of Deadspin’s amazing exposé of now-former ESPN.com columnist Sarah Phillips and her alleged exploits as an online scammer.

We highly recommend you take time out to give the lengthy story a read. But, in short, the article chronicles her meteoric rise from gambling message board commenter to gambling columnist for Covers.com to columnist for ESPN.com in a span of just 13 months. Along the way, she allegedly used her employment with ESPN (her apparent good looks probably helped, too) to con people into investing in Web sites she was purportedly setting up — one about sports comedy, another about sports gambling — all under the too-familiar lofty assurances of a lucrative return on their investment.

Deadspin interviewed two people Phillips managed to dupe: “Ben,” whom Phillips recruited for her sports humor site and whose popular NBA Memes Facebook page was hijacked by Phillips and her shady associates; and Matt, whom Phillips coaxed into giving her thousands of dollars.

The story also raises questions about Phillips’ actual identity — Who is she? Is she who she says she is? Is her name actually Sarah Phillips? Is she the actual person she claims to be in photos? What’s more, is she even a she? (This issue on her identity first arose when, as a writer for Covers, photos purportedly of her were clearly of two different people.)

Those questions were exacerbated by the fact that nobody whom she worked for even bothered to meet with her in-person — only online correspondence and phone calls took place. Yep, you read that correctly. The World Wide Leader in Sports has hired people without meeting them.

ESPN terminated Phillips shortly after the story was published.

Deadspin’s initial report is only the tip of the iceberg. We’re still waiting for ESPN to comment. Meanwhile, there are still a lot of questions with no answer. Such as, who are Nilesh and Navin Prasad? Are they even real? Many enterprising hounds on Twitter have dug up bits of info, trying to piece together who exactly this woman is. And as those pieces come together, we’re starting to see just how crazy this person might be and how elaborate the scheme was.

LBS reached out to Phillips but she declined to comment at the moment. She did go on a Twitter binge Tuesday evening in an attempt to give her side of the story. Among other revelations, she admitted to “concealing” her identity and making “poor choices with who to trust.” Here are those tweets:

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