The Biggest Career Crashes Of 2014

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By Jacquelyn Smith, Aaron Taube, and Emmie Martin

The New Year represents a fresh start. And some of us may need it more than others.

Here are 28 high-profile people (and teams) whose careers or reputations took a big hit in 2014. Many are likely to bounce back - while others may never recover.

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The Biggest Career Crashes Of 2014
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The Biggest Career Crashes Of 2014

In November, Hagel resigned as US Secretary of Defense under pressure from President Obama. As it turns out, Hagel "just wasn't up to the job," a senior defense official concisely summarized.

Although Hagel was reportedly chosen for the position in order to reorganize the armed forces and cut defense spending, he ended up needing to focus on other projects, including combating the rise of ISIS and the spread of Ebola.

This October a recording from a confidential marriage therapy session in 2012 was made public in which the "7th Heaven" actor admitted to molesting underage girls.

In December, 67-year-old Collins released a statement to People magazine in which he admits to inappropriate sexual contact with three female minors. In that statement he said: "Forty years ago, I did something terribly wrong that I deeply regret. I have been working to atone for it ever since."

In a massive attack on Sony Pictures, hackers stole an estimated 11 terabytes of data, including unreleased movies, executive salaries and social security numbers, and private emails. Pascal, Sony's co-chairman, came under fire for a number of comments she made in leaked emails, including statements about President Obama that could be construed as racist. 

Pascal apologized for her remarks about Obama, and she hopes the scandal won't be the end of her career. "I don't want to be defined by these emails, after a 30 year career," she said.

Sterling's long, documented history of racist behavior finally caught up to him in 2014 when TMZ published audio of him telling his girlfriend V. Stiviano not to bring black people to Clippers games or pose with them in Instagram photos.

Previously, he had settled for $2.75 million a lawsuit alleging he discriminated against African-American tenants at his Los Angeles residential buildings. He's also accused of saying he wanted a Southern, white coach to lead poor, black players.

The recorded comments, which came out in April, caused an uproar and persuaded new NBA commissioner Adam Silver to ban Sterling from the league for life and force him to sell the team.

After some legal wrangling, Sterling and his wife sold the Clippers to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for $2 billion. Of course, some career crashes are less painful than others.

The reputation of the University of North Carolina's athletics program has been in decline ever since NCAA investigators arrived on campus in 2010. But things did not hit rock bottom until this past year, when the school's worst fears were confirmed and broadcast to the nation.

In January, former UNC academic advisor Mary Willingham alleged in a CNN story that between 8% and 10% of the school's football and basketball players read below a third-grade level, a claim that tied into a series of internal investigations over no-show classes attended by athletes in the African & Afro-American Studies Department. 

Things fell apart entirely in October when a report issued by former US Justice Department official Kenneth Wainstein found that athletes were not only enrolling in the fake classes, but that they were being shepherded into those classes by academic counselors who knew they were bogus.

The report found this corruption had been going on for nearly two decades, leading to the firing of at least nine employees, and incalculable damage to the reputation of a school once hailed as a model of academic and athletic success.

Although the American Apparel CEO was first fired in June, he stayed on as a consultant with the company until it officially ousted him in December.

Charney, who is known for his erratic behavior, founded the company in the 1980s and built it into an iconic brand — but he was fired abruptly in June because of "concerns about his trustworthiness," The Wall Street Journal reported at the time.

Charney recently told Trish Regan at Bloomberg TV that he has since fallen on hard times, revealing that he's down to his last $100,000 and is sleeping on a friend's couch in Manhattan.

In June, Cantor suffered a shocking loss in the Virginia Republican primary to Tea Party challenger Dave Brat. As the House majority leader, Cantor seemed like a shoo-in to win, and his defeat shocked supporters.

Cantor was up over 30 points in the polls merely days before and had outspent his opponent by a 25 to 1 ratio. However, Cantor kept his composure after the loss, noting that serving Virginia was "one of the highest honors" of his life.

Michael, Uber's senior vice president, came under fire in November after suggesting — in what he thought was an off-the-record conversation — that Uber spends millions of dollars to investigate and dig up dirt on prominent journalists. Although Michael apologized for the comments and kept his job, the incident added to Uber's series of PR blunders this year.

Kheradpir took over as CEO of the networking equipment company Juniper Networks on Jan. 1 and was immediately met with pressure from activist investors to cut costs.

He didn't make it to the end of the year. His board of directors asked him to resign in November for reasons that remain somewhat mysterious.

All the board said at the time was that Kheradpir had exhibited poor conduct during a negotiation with a customer.

In a controversial move, the Twitter CEO sold more than 500,000 shares in the company. "Selling stock speaks louder than any words. As the CEO, how do you look the employees in the eye when you are busy grabbing a lifeboat? He has lost their respect, and obviously the respect of the market," a major institutional investor explained to Business Insider.

Although Twitter executives emphasized that Costolo only ended up selling about 10% of his total shares in the company, the fact that he sold any at all didn't evoke much confidence in his staff.

Public opinion continued to shift against the Washington NFL franchise's use of the name "Redskins," which many consider a slur directed toward Native Americans.

The name was criticized in 2014 by political figures like President Barack Obama and Senator John McCain, as well as the website Etsy, which banned users from selling products bearing the team's name.

A major blow came in June, when the US Patent and Trademark Office canceled the team's federal trademarks for the name, which the court ruled was disparaging to Native Americans. Meanwhile, the team's on-the-field fortunes haven't been much better. Hampered by the disastrous 2012 trade that landed them quarterback Robert Griffin III in exchange for four draft picks, Washington currently sits dead last in the NFC East division with a 3-11 record.

This October, TLC canceled its popular show "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo," staring child beauty pageant contestant Alana "Honey Boo Boo" Thompson. 

TLC pulled the plug after allegations arose that Honey Boo Boo's mother, "Mama June," had resumed dating an old boyfriend who was convicted of molesting a child related to Shannon.

Shannon initially denied seeing the man after he was released from prison earlier this year, but later admitted to having contact with him. She told TMZ she realizes she "made mistakes and done wrong," and no longer has any contact with him.

The New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez missed the entire 2014 season after being given a 211-game suspension for steroid use in 2013.

Rodriguez appealed the decision and early this year earned something of a minor victory. Arbitrator Frederic Horowitz cut his suspension to 162 games, the number of contests in a full Major League season.

This means the Yankees will have to figure out what to do with the aging slugger in 2015 now that he has been reinstated. Per his contract, the team owes him at least $61 million over the next three years.

The 27-year-old Tinder CEO announced in November that he would be stepping down in the wake of a lawsuit from ousted cofounder Whitney Wolfe that accused Rad and cofounder Justin Mateen of sexually harassing her.

The suit, which according to Forbes was settled for just more than $1 million, alleged that Mateen, Wolfe's ex-boyfriend, had become emotionally abusive and that Rad refused to intervene when the issue was brought to his attention. 

After the resignation of Franklin Foer and Leon Wieseltier, two of The New Republic's top editors, over a dozen other staff members left the next day in support of Foer, creating a massive headache for Chris Hughes, the cofounder of Facebook who purchased the magazine in 2012.

The resignations came shortly after Hughes announced plans to overhaul The New Republic by cutting the number of yearly issues in half and placing a heavy emphasis on digital content. Hughes' leadership of TNR has been widely criticized, and many people blame him for destroying the historic publication.

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