Athens, GA (Jan 14, 2009) - The day I went to work for the United States Environmental Protection Agency as a Contracting Officer back in 1993, the man who hired me, Tom McEntaggart, asked me to go for a walk with him. We walked over to one of the Congressional Office buildings in Washington, D.C. and sat in on a hearing about the state of the EPA contract management process. Congressman were throwing bombs at the people testifying and taking no prisoners. Tom looked at me and said that my goal in the new job was to never be mentioned by name in congressional hearings like this. Not good for the career, I was told.
This type of notoriety hit the television sports world this past spring, when it was reported that U.S. Marshals Service Lawyer Joe Band arranged for government resources to provide transportation services to Tim McCarver and Joe Buck to and from Fenway Park for a World Series game. At the time, I wrote:
What is most surprising is that Joe is an attorney for the agency, and if the allegations are true, should have known better. Indeed he may have, and it is possible that the escort was cleared by the U.S. Marshals Ethics Officer before it was approved. If it was, the investigation will be quickly closed and this will have been much ado about nothing . Well except for any appearance of impropriety.
It is not unusual to try and get police escorts after a game, especially at venues where the roads are limited and flights need to be caught. Fenway Park is one of these venues and it would not be realistic to ask McCarver and Buck to ride the T with a bunch of drunken Red Sox fans. But there could have been other alternatives available.
I am willing to give Joe the benefit of the doubt here as these are currently only allegations. If they are proven to be true, I can only respond with "Say it ain't so, Joe!"
Well apparently it was so, and it was not an isolated incident. On January 9, 2009, the U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General released the report of its investigation. In a word, it was damning. Not only had Joe done this for the original game in question, but for numerous sporting events involving Fox broadcasters over the years.
Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, Fox Sports AND CBS Sports people got dragged into the investigation, as they were interviewed as part of the investigation (see image).
At 68-years of age, this may be a career-ender for Joe at the U.S. Marshals Service, but that is only speculation. I was told by a colleague a few weeks ago that, as a result of this incident, he (Band) is only allowed to work in the production trucks at games and cannot leave them (it is surprising he is still working games at all).
A Fox Sports spokesperson, in response to an inquiry from Eye on Sports Media, says that "At select events he [Band] did offer transportation to some FOX Sports personnel. We were unaware, however, that those arrangements were in any way inappropriate, and regret to learn now that they apparently were."
Joe, Did You Have To Strike Up The Band for McCarver and Buck? (Eye on Sports Media, May 2, 2009)
Note: This was originally published on Eye on Sports Media on January 14, 2009.