Behind the Mic: ESPN Re-Ups Dick Vitale, Bob Ley

Basketball Hall of Famer Dick Vitale has agreed to a new contract extension with ESPN that will carry through the 2017-18 season. The agreement will add another season to Vitale’s previous extension, which had been announced this past October. The 2017-18 season will mark the 39th on ESPN for Vitale, who started with the company in its first year (1979-80). Vitale will continue to call some of the season’s top games across ESPN networks, including regular-season action primarily on ESPN and ESPN2 and the Men’s Final Four for ESPN International. Vitale joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season — just after the network’s September 1979 launch — following a successful coaching career. He called ESPN’s first-ever major NCAA basketball game – Wisconsin at DePaul on Dec. 5, 1979 (a 90-77 DePaul win). Since then, he’s called more than a thousand games…

…Bob Ley, ESPN’s longest-serving commentator, has signed a long-term extension to remain with the network he joined as a SportsCenter anchor on its third day of operation (September 9, 1979). The agreement comes as the award-winning Outside the Lines, which Ley has hosted since its inception in May 1990, celebrates its 25th anniversary. Ley was most recently lauded for his hosting of ESPN’s day long coverage following the indictments of several senior FIFA officials, and the subsequent presidential election for soccer’s global governing body. Ley hosted the 2014 FIFA World Cup from Brazil and the 2011 Women’s World Cup from Germany, and served as lead commentator for World Cup ’98 and hosted ESPN’s on-site studio coverage of the 2010 FIFA World Cup from South Africa. Ley will retain his soccer responsibilities under the new agreement, serving as primary host on key soccer properties, including Euro qualifiers, Euros 2016, World Cup coverage and key U.S. Men’s National Soccer team matches. Ley will also remain host of Outside the Lines as it enters its second quarter century, (to be celebrated by a primetime anniversary special July 7 at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN).

…The voice of the NHL on NBC will receive a high honor later this year — in November, Mike “Doc” Emrick will receive the Vin Scully Lifetime Achievement Award in Sports Broadcasting, presented by WFUV Radio in New York. The honor will put Emrick alongside some of the finest sports broadcasters of this generation. Previous Scully Award recipients include inaugural honoree Scully (2008), Dick Enberg (2009), Ernie Harwell (2010), Pat Summerall (2011), Al Michaels (2012), Bob Costas (2013), and Verne Lundquist (2014). (NBC Sports)…

…SiriusXM added former U.S. soccer star and Hall of Famer Michelle Akers to the roster of hosts covering FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015 on SiriusXM’s 24/7 soccer channel, SiriusXM FC (channel 94). Akers and former Rutgers University women’s head coach Glenn Crooks will host World Cup Now, an exclusive pre- and post-game show that will air before and after every U.S. Women’s National Team game, as well as the championship game.   Akers and Crooks will share insight into the tournament’s teams and players and offer expert analysis of upcoming games. Michelle Akers starred on the historic 1991 and 1999 Women’s World Cup-winning U.S. Women’s National Teams, and won the Golden Boot as the top scorer in the 1991 tournament. She is a member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame and was named FIFA’s Female Player of the Century.  In 2004, she and Mia Hamm were the only two women named to the FIFA 100, a list of the 125 greatest living soccer players selected by the legendary Pelé.

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