The PGA Tour has responded in federal court to Hank Haney’s lawsuit against them, which claims they cost him hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions, in revenue after he was fired from his SiriusXM radio show.
As you might expect, the PGA Tour has asked the federal court in which Haney filed the suit to dismiss the case with prejudice, suggesting Haney is not taking responsibility for the actions which precipitated his firing.
In December 2019, Haney filed suit his suit in US District Court for the Southern District of Florida, claiming the PGA Tour “improperly intimidated, enticed and threatened SiriusXM Radio to suspend and ultimately terminate” Haney and his show, “Hank Haney Golf Radio,” which aired on SiriusXM’s PGA Tour Radio channel.
Haney was fired after making comments on his show in May 2019 which dismissed the US Women’s Open and mocked top-ranked Korean players. With co-host Steve Johnson, Haney claimed an ignorance of LPGA Tour players, suggesting a player named “Lee” would win the US Women’s Open. Critics called the comments racist and xenophobic at worst, terribly ignorant at best.
The long-time swing instructor claimed in his suit that the PGA Tour meddled in SiriusXM’s business to influence his firing. He also claimed the Tour pressured Golf Channel to end his show “The Hank Haney Project” and negatively affected sales of his Tiger Woods tell-all book, “The Big Miss.”
In their response, the Tour’s lawyers claim Haney’s case makes no sense given his career.
“Plaintiffs make several statements allegedly documenting PGA Tour’s ‘vendetta’ against Haney originating in 2012,” the Tour’s attorneys wrote in their motion to dismiss. “Yet, if PGA Tour actually possessed this vendetta as Plaintiffs allege, then it seems inapposite that PGA Tour would not have protested initially and insisted SiriusXM refuse to air his program on PGA Tour Radio when Sirius XM entered into a multi-year contract in 2017 with Haney allowing him to broadcast on PGA Tour’s branded radio channel. Accordingly, not only do Plaintiffs not have any support for this unsubstantiated allegation, but the facts belie such an assertion.”
The Tour’s attorneys further assert the Tour couldn’t be accused of having “unjustifiably interfered with Plaintiffs’ business and/or contractual relationship with SiriusXM.” Further, while the PGA Tour said in a statement that it had requested SiriusXM initially suspend Haney for his comments, that SiriusXM’s decision to fire Haney was not “based on anything other than [the radio network’s] own review of Haney’s racist, xenophobic, and sexist comments about the LPGA and its players.”
“In sum, Plaintiffs refuse to take ownership of Haney’s own ignorant and ill-advised comments and the resulting ramifications therefrom and instead have filed this suit, which is nothing more than an improper fishing expedition to try to deflect blame elsewhere,” the Tour’s filing reads. “Accordingly, this lawsuit should be dismissed with prejudice.”
Haney is seeking a seven-figure judgment in compensatory and punitive damages.
Haney said his radio show’s advertising revenue “would have amounted to millions of dollars over the life of the agreement” in addition to other lost opportunities. Haney claims he was making a base salary of $250,000 for his radio show, along with a cut of the show’s ad revenue. Haney claims he made approximately $464,000 from ad revenue in 2018 and had earned approximately $364,000 through April 2019. Callaway Golf declined to renew their endorsement deal with Haney at the end of 2019, in large part, the lawsuit claims, over Haney losing his SiriusXM show.
Further, Haney believes the “PGA Tour’s intentional tortious conduct” entitles him to further compensation, including for the damage to his reputation.