Depending on who you talk to, there’s either been a mass exodus of high-profile talent at ESPN over the last nine months – Rachel Nichols, Steve Berthiaume and his wife Cindy Brunson, Doug Gottlieb, Michelle Beadle, Erin Andrews to name a few – or that’s just the nature of the business at a time when networks are gearing up to compete with the Worldwide Leader in the coming years.
The next ESPN name that could be on the move? College basketball analyst Jay Williams. Sources say that the former Duke point guard – who is having quite the week, between dating Charissa Thompson, being profiled in the Times, and having his former Bulls teammates go off on him for his marijuana comments – has a contract that runs through March. By Final Four weekend, he could be at another network.
Williams will be an interesting case for ESPN, which just lost another college hoops analyst (Gottlieb) to CBS. How badly do they want to retain Williams? ESPN just passed him over for his former Bulls teammate Jalen Rose when a seat came open on the Gameday set (Hubert Davis left for the Tar Heels).
Fox, NBC and CBS all have college basketball programming, but ESPN by far has the best regular season slate. CBS has the all-important tournament, though.
Fox is planning on having another TV channel (or two) by the Fall, and one would imagine a 31-year-old former college basketball star could get a show if they’re throwing one at 81-year-old Regis Philbin (as has been rumored). They’ll need plenty of programming. Would Pac-12 games and a TV show entice Williams?
Does NBC offer up a TV show on the fledgling NBC Sports Network?