ESPN has lost a number of talented people in the last year (with Brian Kenny, Bruce Feldman, and Pat Forde being some of the most notable examples), and they may be losing another on-air talent shortly: popular anchor and radio host Scott Van Pelt.
The Big Lead is reporting that the NBC Sports Network (freshly minted at the beginning of the year) is rumored to be going after Van Pelt, whose contract expires in April. On the heels of losing Jim Rome to CBS, losing Van Pelt would be huge, especially for ESPN Radio. Kenny’s radio show was recently replaced by a show hosted by Mark Schlereth and Mike Hill, much to the chagrin of our staff. If Van Pelt were also to depart, ESPN would need to fill another hole in its radio schedule, but Van Pelt’s sidekick Ryen Rusillo could be a tailor-made successor. If Van Pelt does indeed leave for NBC as speculated, it would give the network an extremely solid anchor to lead whatever coverage they’re planning to go with. It’s the kind of splash NBC Sports Network has to make coming out of the gates and would be a direct shot at ESPN.
Another popular ESPN talent whose contract is expiring is the cohost of SportsNation, Michelle Beadle. Ken Fang is reporting that Beadle’s contract is expiring this month, and she could be a huge get for a network that is looking to get a firm grip on a studio host that can attract a younger crowd. The brass at ESPN is quite fond of Beadle though, and I don’t think they’d let her go without a fight. ESPN would probably have to increase her role on the network, though, which is something I don’t think they’d really hesitate doing. It could be similar to the expanded role Erin Andrews has seen in the last couple of years. Many fans are of the opnion that Beadle has supplanted EA as the queen of ESPN, and a progression in her career past hosting SportsNation with Cowherd would seem logical at this point in time.