Another veteran ESPN presence will be with the network for some time to come, as Bristol announced Monday that they’ve signed senior news correspondent Jeremy Schaap to “a new long-term extension.” Schaap has been with ESPN since 1994, serving in a variety of roles, but he’s been particularly notable for his work on E:60 for the last eight years. The ESPN announcement makes it sound like that will continue to be his main focus, but he’ll be contributing elsewhere as well:
Schaap, who joined ESPN full-time in 1994, will continue to serve as a correspondent for ESPN’s award-winning, prime-time newsmagazine E:60. A new one-hour branded show titled E:60Reports with Jeremy Schaap debuted this May with an investigation of Sepp Blatter and FIFA. Two weeks later, the U.S. Justice Department announced that it had indicted more than a dozen soccer executives and several of FIFA’s highest-ranking officials were arrested in Switzerland. On June 2, Blatter held a press conference to announce that he would be stepping down.
In addition, Schaap will continue to host ESPN Radio’s The Sporting Life and contribute to Outside the Lines, SportsCenter, NFL Countdown and College GameDay, among other ESPN platforms. He will also continue to cover select live events, including the FIFA World Cup, and to lead ESPN’s coverage at the Olympics.
As AA’s Dan Levy noted on Twitter, much has been made of ESPN parting ways with big names like Bill Simmons, Keith Olbermann and Colin Cowherd, but they’ve found ways to keep important long-tenured talents like Schaap, Trey Wingo and Bob Ley around:
It’s a weird world where the self-proclaimed Worldwide Leader In Sports can be compared to the A’s rather than the Yankees, and ESPN still tends to have a much bigger budget than anyone else, but with increasing corporate directives from Disney to cut costs, at least a partial “Moneyball” approach of finding and retaining undervalued talent rather than paying big dollars in bidding wars for obvious stars makes some sense for Bristol. Schaap has a lot of value to them, and he’s done a substantial amount of good work lately, especially on the FIFA front with investigations into the Qatar World Cup and Sepp Blatter. He’s knowledgeable on a wide variety of sports and usually brings substantial reporting chops to the table, and the rare instances where he hasn’t looked great (such as the Manti Te’o non-interview) have been more about management and the conditions they’ve agreed to than his own work.
Sticking with ESPN makes sense for Schaap, too. For all the criticism ESPN gets for some of their journalism decisions (such as their ongoing lack of an ombudsman, their beliefs about conflicts of interest and their bottom-line-driven support of shows like First Take), they’ve shown more of a commitment to original television reporting on sports issues (what Schaap specializes in) than any competing cable sports network. There isn’t much else like E:60 or Outside The Lines out there, and ESPN may even be going more in that direction, given the recent announcement that OTL will have a long-term home on the main network in October. Schaap said in a statement that ESPN’s commitment to journalism and to stories on larger issues was a big part of why he decided to stick around:
“ESPN has been my home for more than 20 years,” said Schaap, “and before that my father Dick Schaap did so much remarkable work here. I couldn’t be more pleased to know that my colleagues – so many of whom are like family – are stuck with me for many more years.
“At ESPN, I have been afforded the opportunity to develop as a journalist and a broadcaster and it’s my hope that I will continue to do so. I have been privileged to work somewhere that cares about reporting, storytelling and fairness, where tremendous resources are dedicated to the important pursuit of journalism.”
He added: “At ESPN, and in particular for the last eight years at E:60, I have been encouraged to pursue stories that transcend sports, that sometimes are only tangentially about sports, but that speak to larger issues. I will continue to seek out those kinds of stories, working with the best producers, editors and camera crews on the planet—and that’s all anyone in this business can ask for.”
At the moment, this looks like a smart move for both ESPN and Schaap. We’ll see how it plays out.