After a tweet about the Florida State University campus shooting from ESPN Campus Connection reporter Marisa Martin resulted in a barrage of criticism, the network issued a statement distancing itself from her and offering well wishes to the FSU community.
"Reported gunman on the FSU campus. Maybe he is headed for Jameis," reads a tweet issued last night from Martin's now-deleted Twitter account. She was referring, presumably, to Jameis Winston.
Her Twitter bio, preserved for all time by an army of outraged Twitter users who swiftly captured screen-shots of her profile and controversial posts, described her as a sports broadcasting major at the University of Alabama and a campus reporter for ESPN through its Campus Connection program.
The network describes the program as a sort of apprenticeship that may land students jobs after graduation: "ESPNU Campus Connection pushes the boundaries of storytelling...ESPNU Campus Connection is designed to bring our viewers the latest from campuses around the country through student-generated content. With more than 150 schools participating, this program has brought informative, compelling and entertaining content to ESPNU studio shows, game broadcasts, espnw.com and espnu.com.
Students participate in live game broadcasts, submit video features, write articles and take an active role in select studio-based shows. In addition to the great content provided by students, ESPNU Campus Connection has also helped us find and develop talented people who could potentially work with our company."
In a statement after the controversial tweet ESPN said "Campus Connection participants are not ESPN employees; they’re students gaining practical experience in TV production. What happened at Florida State is a tragedy. We hope for healing for the victims and that community.”
Several tweets issued from the account after the Twittersphere piled on expressed apology. Then the entire account was deleted. Then came assertions the account had been hacked, which no one is buying.
The main ESPN Twitter account hasn't addressed the matter as a chorus of tweets express disgust. At least one person amid a throng of critics was willing to forgive.
"Hopefully, @MarisaM24, whose twitter is now deleted, has learned not to attempt stupid humor in tragedy," Twitter user Gerry Collins posted. " She's a kid, at #AL, from her Facebook. It was gross and she should apologize. But let's not make @MarisaM24 a casualty here."