The affair become a public matter when Phillips called police because of concerns that Hundley, based on her previous statements, might harm his family (you can read about them here). ESPN, somewhat surprisingly, issued a statement from Phillips, and one of their own, on SportsCenter around 2:40 PM ET Wednesday.
"I am deeply sorry I have put my family and colleagues through this. It is a personal matter that I will not comment on further. I have, however, asked for a leave of absence to address this with my family and to avoid any unnecessary distractions through the balance of the baseball playoffs."There's nothing tremendously surprising here -- Phillips is in an otherworldly nightmare right now, and there's not a ton he can do other than to take time off work, move out of the spotlight, and try to restore order at home.
ESPN's statement came from Chris McKendry. McKendry's delivery of the statement was bizarre, in that while she read Phillips' statement in a very straightforward manner, she seemed to hem and haw while reading ESPN's statement, almost as if she hadn't been given an exact wording and received more of a general outline:
"... that we are aware of this and took appropriate disciplinary action at the time. We have granted Steve's request for an extended leave of absence to address it. And we have no further comment."Again, you have to see the clip of McKendry reading it, but it just seemed weird. Also odd was that ESPN even released a statement. Usually they act as if things of this nature didn't occur (because they don't fall under the umbrella of "sports and entertainment"), although ignoring the Phillips issue and diving right into an entire segment about Rick Pitino -- which they did following a commercial -- would probably have been a little too hypocritical.
Besides, with the proverbial [stuff] about to slam directly into the fan thanks to Daulerio's First Amendment fest over at Deadspin, it would seem prudent for the World Wide Leader to abandon their typical "there's no elephant in the room" method of ignoring issues and to get everything out in the open. After all, leave of absence or not, this is a story that's not going to go away quickly.