Behind the Mic: Maria Taylor Joins NBC Sports; ESPN Retains Neil Everett
Behind the Mic provides a roundup of recent news regarding on-air talent, including new deals, departures, and assignments compiled from press releases and reports around the industry. In this week’s edition, NBC Sports lands the services of Maria Taylor, Neil Everett re-signs with ESPN, and more.
Maria Taylor Joins NBC Sports, Makes Debut at Tokyo Olympics
Maria Taylor, whose work has already included many of the biggest events in sports, has joined NBC Sports beginning with the Tokyo Olympics. She comes to NBC Sports after nearly a decade at ABC/ESPN, where she most recently hosted the NBA Finals.
Highlighted by host roles for the Olympics and the NFL – including as a host and contributor for Football Night in America and Super Bowls – Taylor will work across premier NBC Sports properties.
“Maria has excelled in a wide range of roles at marquee events, and will be a powerful addition to our team,” says Pete Bevacqua, Chairman, NBC Sports. “We are always looking to improve, and Maria is going to make us better. We are very excited for her to join us right away in Tokyo.”
A graduate of the University of Georgia, Taylor played basketball and was a three-time All-SEC volleyball player. She was also a member of the USA A2 National Volleyball team. Taylor delivered the commencement address at her alma mater in May, marking the 60-year anniversary of the university’s integration.
“Incredibly excited to have the opportunity to work with Pete, Molly, Sam, Fred, and the entire NBC Sports family,” says Taylor. “Literally, hosting the Olympics, Football Night in America, and the Super Bowl is what I dreamed of when I started in television – and this would not be possible without standing on the shoulders of all of those who came before me and made this path possible. And I plan to pay it forward.” (NBC Sports)
ESPN Re-Signs SportsCenter Anchors Neil Everett, Ashley Brewer to New Contracts
Solidifying the lineup at its Los Angeles Production Center (LAPC), ESPN has re-signed SportsCenter anchors Neil Everett and Ashley Brewer to new contracts to remain with the network. As part of her new deal, Brewer will relocate from ESPN’s Connecticut headquarters to Los Angeles.
Everett and Brewer join Stan Verrett, who also recently signed a new deal, and Linda Cohn as anchors based at the LAPC. On a rotating basis, the four will host the 1 a.m. ET edition of SportsCenter that originates from Los Angeles and contribute to the 11 p.m. edition that originates from Connecticut. In addition, all will contribute to other digital productions originating from the LAPC, with Cohn continuing her role as host of the nightly (during hockey season) ESPN+ NHL program In the Crease. (ESPN)
SEC Network’s Paul Finebaum Signs Multi-Year Contract Extension, Returns to SEC Nation
ESPN has reached a multi-year contract extension with SEC Network and ESPN Radio personality Paul Finebaum. Finebaum will continue to contribute across high-profile ESPN and SEC Network programming, including as the host of The Paul Finebaum Show and returning as an analyst on SEC Nation. In addition, The Paul Finebaum Show’s popular “Finebaum Friday” edition will be back on the road this fall.
Complementing his hosting duties on The Paul Finebaum Show and weekly presence on SEC Nation throughout the fall, Finebaum is a valued contributor on a variety of ESPN programming, including Get Up, First Take, SportsCenter, College Football Live and College GameDay. (ESPN)
Fox Sports Adds NFL Quarterback Mark Sanchez to Its Elite NFL Game Talent Roster
Fox Sports expands its elite NFL talent roster by signing former NFL quarterback Mark Sanchez as a game analyst. Sanchez will also make appearances across FS1’s daily studio shows. The 10-year NFL veteran, who led the New York Jets to consecutive AFC Championship Games in his first two pro seasons, embarks on his first season as an NFL game analyst this fall.
Upon announcing his retirement, Sanchez immediately transitioned from the gridiron to one of ABC’s prized studio roles alongside Kevin Negandhi and now-Fox NFL analyst Jonathan Vilma. While with ABC/ESPN for two years, Sanchez also contributed to College Football Live, Get Up, and SportsCenter. (Fox Sports)
Former NFL Linebacker and Texas Longhorn Sam Acho Joins ESPN as College Football and NFL Studio Analyst
Former University of Texas and NFL linebacker Sam Acho has signed a multi-year deal to join ESPN’s comprehensive college football coverage, primarily serving as a lead studio voice on college football Saturdays on ESPN2. Acho will also call select college football matchups this fall.
In addition to his college football duties, which include regular appearances on SportsCenter, Get Up and College Football Live, the Lifetime Longhorn will contribute as an NFL analyst across ESPN studio programming. (ESPN)
SEC Network Hosts Peter Burns, Alyssa Lang & Dari Nowkhah Sign Multi-Year Contract Extensions
ESPN has reached multi-year contract extensions with its three SEC Now hosts: Peter Burns, Alyssa Lang and Dari Nowkhah.
Nowkhah and Burns have been anchoring SEC Now since SEC Network’s launch in August 2014, with Lang joining the SEC Now desk in fall 2018. The trio hosts the show both in-studio and on-the-road, including several SEC Championships, NCAA Championship events and the conference’s annual media days event, SEC Kickoff Presented by Regions. SEC Now is currently on site at this year’s event.
Nowkhah joined ESPN in June 2004, hosting SportsCenter, College Football Live and Baseball Tonight before being named a lead host for ESPNU in August 2011. The Tulsa, OK native has been with SEC Network since its launch in August 2014, hosting SEC Now both in studio and on site as SEC teams competed for national titles in football, basketball, baseball and more. Nowkhah is also the host of SEC Featured on Monday nights in the fall on SECN.
In addition to his studio role on SEC Network, Nowkhah will continue to host his ESPN Radio show Dari & Mel and contribute play-by-play for basketball and baseball across ESPN networks.
Burns has been with SEC Network since its inception in 2014. The Baton Rouge, LA native is also the co-host of SEC This Morning on SEC Network and SiriusXM. Starting this fall, Burns and co-host Chris Doering will be live with SEC This Morning on both Monday and Friday mornings on SEC Network, in addition to their daily radio schedule on SiriusXM. The duo is currently hosting the show from SEC Kickoff Presented by Regions.
In addition to his studio role on SEC Network, Burns has provided analysis as a course reporter on SEC Network’s live coverage of the SEC Men’s and Women’s Golf Tournaments, has contributed to studio programming across all ESPN networks, including The Paul Finebaum Show, College Football Live and SportsCenter, and recently served as a commentator on PGA Championship coverage on ESPN+.
In addition to her SEC Now duties, Lang serves as a sideline reporter for SEC Network college football and basketball. She is also the co-host of Out of Pocket, now moving to Wednesday evenings at 7 p.m. on SEC Network. Lang will be joined on the show by SEC Network commentator Andraya Carter, with the duo focusing on SEC sports, laidback interviews and, of course, Lang’s signature passion for finding the best food the SEC has to offer.
Lang also co-hosted ESPN Radio’s Primetime with Field Yates every NFL Sunday last fall, and has contributed to studio programming across ESPN networks, including The Paul Finebaum Show, SportsCenter and Get Up.
Prominent Soccer Journalist Doug McIntyre Joins FOX Sports
Prominent soccer journalist Doug McIntyre has joined Fox Sports’ growing roster of notable writers. In this new position, he contributes original written and video content to the network’s digital and social platforms, including the Fox Sports app and FOXSports.com.
McIntyre has covered the United States Men’s and Women’s National Teams across dozens of countries, including multiple FIFA World Cups. He previously covered soccer as a staff writer at Yahoo Sports and ESPN. The New York City native also served as a staff writer for the New York Times and Toronto Star. (Fox Sports)
ESPN Re-Signs College Football Analyst Joey Galloway to Multi-Year Contract Extension
ESPN has reached a multi-year contract extension with longtime college football analyst Joey Galloway. A 10-year ESPN veteran, Galloway will continue to be a mainstay across ESPN studio programming, including College Football Live, SportsCenter and college football pre-game, halftime and post-game shows on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays throughout the season.
Galloway has provided analysis for every College Football Playoff since its inception, and he will continue to play an integral role in ESPN’s CFP coverage, including the College Football Playoff: Top 25 Rankings Show, College Football Playoff Selection Show and on-site studio presence of the New Year’s Six and National Championship Galloway joined ESPN in 2011 and has appeared as both a game and studio analyst. He made the transition to full-time studio in 2016. (ESPN)
SEC Network Welcomes Super Bowl Champion Benjamin Watson Saturday Studio Line-up
Super Bowl champion and former Georgia football standout Benjamin Watson has signed a deal to join SEC Network as a college football studio analyst. Watson will be a Saturday staple on the network’s SEC Now and SEC Football Final programs.
Watson was drafted by the New England Patriots in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft and would go on to win a Super Bowl with the team in his rookie season. He spent six seasons with the Patriots followed by time with the Cleveland Browns (2010-12), New Orleans Saints (2013-15, 2018) and the Baltimore Ravens (2016-17). Watson was awarded the Bart Starr Award in 2018 as the NFL player who “best exemplifies outstanding character and leadership in the home, on the field, and in the community.” A 15-year NFL tight end, Watson finished his career with 547 receptions and 44 touchdowns when he retired in 2019 after returning to the New England Patriots.
Watson played three seasons at Georgia after beginning his playing career at Duke. During his time as a Bulldog, Watson had 65 catches for 852 yards and six touchdowns. (ESPN)
Noted Boxing Reporter Mike Coppinger Joins ESPN
Mike Coppinger, one of the most accomplished journalists covering the sport of boxing, has joined ESPN as a reporter. In this new role, he will contribute news, analysis, storytelling and live event coverage for both boxing and mixed martial arts. In addition to writing, he will appear on TV and radio.
Coppinger studied journalism at George Mason University. He started his career as a boxing freelancer for USA Today in 2010, covering events on deadline from ringside. He was USA Today’s lead boxing writer from 2015 to 2017. He then was the lead boxing for Ring Magazine from 2017 to 2019. He has been the boxing insider for The Athletic since 2019. He won first place in Investigative Reporting and also in News Story in the 2019 Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) writing awards. He is an elector for the International Boxing Hall of Fame and votes on the BWAA’s annual awards (fight of the year, fighter of the year, etc.). (ESPN)
10-year-old Pepper Persley Appears on On Her Turf at the Olympics
Last night, 10-year-old WNAB reporter Pepper Persley joined On Her Turf at the Olympics’ co-hosts Lindsey Czarniak and MJ Acosta-Ruiz to discuss how she got started as a reporter and the importance of representation in the WBNA and media. Click HERE to watch the full clip.