Aiyana Cristal, the Comcast SportsNet Chicago reporter who was at the center of a social media controversy earlier this year, has left the regional sports network.
“After two years of positive contributions, Aiyana Cristal is no longer part of our on-air team,” a Comcast SportsNet spokesman said in a statement. “We appreciate the hard work and professionalism she brought to her role at CSN and wish her the best.”
Cristal did not respond to requests for comment.
Sources said Comcast SportsNet chose not to renew Cristal’s contract, which was up in early September. The network is believed to be close to hiring two new reporters to replace Cristal and Jen Lada, who resigned to join ESPN in August.
Cristal was the subject of an exchange on Twitter last March between Dan Bernstein and Matt Spiegel, two hosts from CBS Radio sports/talk WSCR AM 670. “I have no rooting interest in her work, but enjoy her giant boobs,” Bernstein tweeted. Spiegel replied: “I am improbably distracted from them by her professional discomfort. It’s a crime.”
Both hosts apologized the next day, but not before their series of tweets went viral and were condemned as “sexist, degrading and wholly unprofessional.” Comcast SportsNet rose to Cristal’s defense, calling the matter “a disappointing and unfortunate situation.” Others expressing outrage included the Association for Women in Sports Media and the Association for Women Journalists-Chicago, which said the apologies were “a necessary first step, [but] they simply do not go far enough.”
Cristal responded to what she called the “cyberbullying attack” with a statement that read in part: “This incident serves as a gross reminder that women continue to fight every day to be treated equally. My female colleagues share my frustration in knowing the sports industry presents us with challenges of equality in an arena that if often filled with misogyny.”
Cristal joined Comcast SportsNet in September 2013 from WPLG-TV, the ABC affiliate in Miami. A native of Tacoma, Washington, she graduated from Georgia State University with a degree in broadcast journalism.