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Once again, out of bounds at ESPN

"I hate to single out ESPN for having a dysfunctional culture," Lebowitz said. "It just mimics an inherent ill in our society. It's more a reflection of overall societal behavior where women are mistreated in the workplace. Whether it's the investment industry or the entertainment industry or something else, it's across the board. It just seems more sensational at ESPN because they're a very public entity."

Added Lebowitz, "There's still an awful long way to go in terms of teachable moments for men to understand proper workplace conduct and to treat women as equals."

At the very least, he said, ESPN "has sent a message" that such conduct won't be tolerated by firing or suspending employees whose behavior crossed the line.

The Franklin-Edwards exchange came during a staff meeting Friday before the Florida State-South Carolina game. Franklin was talking with two fellow announcers, Rod Gilmore and Ed Cunningham, about Gilmore's wife, Marie, who was elected mayor of Alameda, Calif., in November.

When Edwards tried to join the conversation, Franklin allegedly responded, "Why don't you leave this to the boys, sweet cakes?," according to the Web site SportsbyBrooks, which first reported the incident. (Edwards later told USA Today that Franklin used the term "sweet baby.")

When Edwards objected to Franklin's comment, Franklin allegedly responded, "Okay then, [expletive]."

After Edwards reported the comments to senior executives, ESPN tried to pull Franklin off the game but couldn't find a replacement for him in time. He and Edwards worked together that night without apparent incident. He was replaced the next night on the radio broadcast of a second college game.

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