The pairing of Michael Smith and Jemele Hill at ESPN’s Sportscenter was a history-making move marking the first time the popular sports program featured an all-Black anchor team. With Hill bolting for The Undefeated, it all seemed apparent that Smith would also follow suit and he delivered his last anchoring broadcast on Friday (Mar. 9).
Sports Illustrated reports:
Smith leaving the 6 p.m. SC6 edition of SportsCenter follows his former SportsCenter co-anchor Jemele Hill ’s decision to depart the franchise to join the staff of The Undefeated, the ESPN microsite that fuses sports, race and culture, as well as other additional assignments. Both Hill and Smith have multiple years left on their ESPN contracts so look for Smith to craft a new role at ESPN over the next couple of months.
As this column wrote in October when it predicted Hill’s tenure as the co-host of the 6 p.m. ET edition of SportsCenter would end, Smith leaving SportsCenter is not a surprise. The SportsCenter that Hill and Smith envisioned, what made their chemistry honest and unique on the ESPN2 show His and Hers and their podcasts together, had slowly been chopped away by a desire from management to change that show to that of a traditional SportsCenter. In addition, SportsCenter’s upper management shifted last September with longtime ESPN exec Norby Williamson becoming the lead executive on all SportsCenter content as part of a management shakeup in ESPN’s content group.
Although it isn’t known where Smith will end up next, chances are The Undefeated will be his next home.