Michael Smith is headed to the ESPN SportsCenter sidelines. His last show will be tonight as he follows his former SC co-anchor and His and Hers podcast partner Jemele Hill out the door of the flagship highlights show.
Sports Illustrated first reported that Smith will leave the 6 PM ET gig, an unsurprising exit in the wake of management’s push to make the show more of a traditional SportsCenter. His move comes less than 14 months Smith and Hill were announced to be co-hosting the re-imagined SC6, in the hope of capitalizing on their unforced chemistry.
Hill had been suspended in October after a tweet storm over Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’ threat to bench players who protested during the national anthem. Donald Trump and his administration had called Hill out over her comments about POTUS’ stance on the protests. She has since segued to join the ESPN vertical The Undefeated as chief correspondent and senior columnist, and continue as a commentator for the network.
Smith’s exit is the latest bump in ESPN’s rocky road of late. along with a number of suspensions of on-air talent for things they’ve said or allegedly done. For example, Donovan McNabb and Eric Davis were fired in January amid sexual harassment charges, and radio hosw Ryen Russillo was suspended after his arrest in a strange trespassing case in Wyoming..
In December, longtime ESPN president John Skipper admitted to a substance-abuse problem and left the company. On Monday, John Pitaro was named president of ESPN and co-chair of Disney Media Networks.