Behind The Mic: SportsCenter Anchor John Anderson to Retire at End of June; ESPN Releases Masters Coverage Analysts

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: FOX Sports releases UFL broadcast team; Buck Showalter rejoins the MLB Network as analyst; and more.

ESPN SportsCenter Anchor John Anderson Leaving At End Of June

Veteran ESPN SportsCenter anchor John Anderson will retire from the show at the end of June, he announced the news on his podcast, Inside Wisconsin. Anderson’s been with ESPN since 1999 and has been on ESPN’s late-night programming for the last two decades.

FOX Sports Unveils Broadcast Team for Inaugural UFL Season

Veteran broadcaster and Emmy Award winner Curt Menefee teams with critically acclaimed analyst Joel Klatt to lead the FOX Sports broadcast team onto the field for the inaugural season of the United Football League (UFL), it was announced today by Brad Zager, FOX Sports President of Production & Operations/Executive Producer.

Menefee and Klatt are on the call Saturday, March 30, when the two-time USFL champion Birmingham Stallions take on the 2023 XFL champion Arlington Renegades from Choctaw Stadium in Arlington, Texas to kick off the new professional spring football league on FOX at 1:00 PM ET. Former NFL quarterback Brock Huard will report from the sidelines.

Versatile play-by-play announcer Kevin Kugler and former Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner will deliver the second half of the opening day UFL doubleheader, the St. Louis Battlehawks at the Michigan Panthers Saturday, March 30 at 4:00 PM ET on FOX from Detroit’s Ford Field, with former Denver Broncos tight end Jake Butt working the sidelines. 


FOX Deportes, scheduled for an eight-game UFL slate in 2024, including the March 30 opener and the June 16 Championship Game, is led by play-by-play announcer Rodolfo Landeros alongside veteran analysts Jaime Mottaand Jorge Carlos Mercader.  In addition to live broadcasts of each game, the network’s daily sports highlight program, TOTAL SPORTS 360, offers highlights, interviews and additional content throughout season.


FOX Sports continues its technology-forward approach to spring football with innovative camera angles including Beverly Hills Aerials in-action drones, Pylon Cams, ActionStreamer Helmet Cams, SkyCam, referee Hat Cams and the popular Megalodon. Unique inside-the-game audio will continue with 12 players mic’d for each game, along with being able to listen in on all coach and referee communications.

Laura Rutledge, Jeff Darlington Join ESPN’s Coverage of the Masters Tournament

Expanding their ESPN roles with new assignments, Laura Rutledge and Jeff Darlington have joined the ESPN coverage team for next month’s Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club. For the 17th year, ESPN will have live telecasts of the first two rounds of the Tournament from 3-7:30 p.m. ET on Thursday and Friday, April 11-12, as well as the annual Masters Par 3 Contest on Wednesday, April 10, and extensive surrounding coverage throughout the week.

Rutledge will host Welcome to the Masters, a two-hour ESPN program that debuted last year and will lead into the 3 p.m. start of live coverage on both days. Darlington will work as a reporter and essayist, contributing to SportsCenter reports from the Masters as well as preview programs airing on ESPN+ on Tuesday and Wednesday of Tournament week.

Rutledge is a sideline reporter for select NFL games on ESPN, including the NFL playoffs, as well as the College Football Playoff. She regularly hosts ESPN’s year-round weekday NFL news and information show NFL Live and during college football season hosts SEC Network’s SEC Nation. Consistently expanding her portfolio since joining ESPN in 2014 as a reporter on SEC Network and ESPN, Rutledge also plays large roles in ESPN’s presentation of the NFL’s Pro Bowl Games and NFL Draft coverage.

An Emmy-winning reporter, Darlington, who has been covering the NFL since 2005, joined ESPN in September 2016. Best known for his sit-down interviews and storytelling features, Darlington also reports from NFL stadiums during the season for Sunday NFL Countdown. During the offseason, he is a regular contributor to Get Up, NFL Live and SportsCenter.

Buck Showalter Rejoins MLB Network As On-Air Analyst

Four-time Manager of the Year Buck Showalter has rejoined MLB Network as an on-air analyst appearing across its programming. Showalter, who was part of MLB Network’s on-air team from August 2020 through the 2021 season, will make his 2024 debut on the 6 p.m. ET edition of the Emmy-Award winning MLB Tonight on Monday, April 1st.

“I enjoyed my time at MLB Network with people I know and respect, so when this opportunity came up, I couldn’t say no,” says Showalter. “There are many ways to analyze baseball, and I appreciate the different perspectives that come with working at the network. We all bring what we bring and it’s very entertaining. The place is filled with smart, passionate people, who want to teach and grow the game, so I’m excited to be back on the team.”

“We loved having Buck with us a couple years ago given his on-field expertise and years of baseball knowledge,” says Marc Caiafa, MLB Network Senior Vice President of Production. “Having gone up against the new faces and stars of our game, and managing under the new on-field rules, Buck will only make our content stronger this season.”

In addition to Showalter, MLB Network recently announced  that World Series champion and three-time All-Star pitcher Adam Wainwright has joined MLB Network as an on-air analyst.

Showalter most recently won the Manager of the Year Award with the New York Mets in 2022, becoming the only manager to win the award with four different franchises: New York Yankees (1994), Texas Rangers (2004), Baltimore Orioles (2014) and Mets (2022). Showalter turned the Mets from a 77-win team in 2021, to a 101-win club in 2022, marking the second-best record in Mets franchise history. Showalter compiled 1,727 wins in his 22 seasons as an MLB manager, including nine with the Orioles (2010-2018), four with Rangers (2003-2006), three with the Arizona Diamondbacks (1998-2000) four with the Yankees (1992-1995) and two with the Mets (2022-2023). Showalter’s 1,727 career wins rank 19th all-time in MLB history, and his 669 wins with Baltimore rank second all-time behind Hall of Famer Earl Weaver (1,480). For the first time since 1997, Showalter guided the 2012 Orioles to their first of three Postseason appearances, leading Baltimore to a 93-69 record. Following the 2012 Postseason appearance, Showalter led the Orioles to the American League Championship Series in 2014 before being named the AL Manager of the Year for the third time (2004 with the Rangers and 1994 with the Yankees). As the first manager in Diamondbacks history, Showalter’s 1999 team made the Postseason for the first time, and his 1995 Yankees played in the Postseason for the first time in 14 years. Drafted in the fifth round of 1977 MLB Draft by the Yankees, Showalter would go on to spend 19 years in the organization, including three different managerial positions in the Minor Leagues, before joining the Major League coaching staff in 1990.

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