Fox Sports and ESPN have made what amounts to a trade of top-level sideline reporters. Just days after ESPN’s Shannon Spake was signed by Fox Sports to become one of their lead sideline reporters, ESPN has signed Molly McGrath of Fox Sports.
McGrath will be a sideline reporter and host for ESPN, both roles that she filled at FS1. McGrath was the lead sideline reporter for Fox/FS1’s college football coverage as well as a co-host for America’s Pregame, FS1’s answer to the 6 PM ET SportsCenter before handing it over to Colin Cowherd and Jason Whitlock.
Here’s the announcement from ESPN:
With the 2016 college football season fast-approaching, ESPN has hired Molly McGrath as a college sports sideline reporter and host. McGrath, who worked at ESPN in 2011 as a production assistant, returns to the company to be a sideline reporter for ESPN’s Friday night college football telecasts and will also host College Football Live on select days beginning in late August and continuing through the season. McGrath will also be a sideline reporter on ESPN’s 2016-17 college basketball telecasts.
“It is great to welcome Molly back to ESPN,” said senior coordinating producer Lee Fitting. “Versatility is one of her many strengths that will be on display throughout the college football and basketball seasons. She immediately makes our college sports coverage better and we look forward to working with her for years to come.”
During her first tenure with ESPN, the San Francisco native learned the ins-and-outs of a national media outlet, working behind the scenes on SportsCenter and a variety of other studio shows. Her duties included logging play-by-play of sporting events, writing shot sheets and producing highlights.
“I am thrilled to bring my career full circle as I return to the ESPN family,” said McGrath. “Over the last five years, I have worked extremely hard to put myself in a position to return to ESPN as an on-air commentator. This opportunity will continue to challenge me and elevate my career to the next level.”
ESPN also produced a video welcoming McGrath to Bristol.
Just as Spake was a positive addition for Fox, McGrath is a great hire by ESPN on a couple different levels. First, she’s very talented with a variety of experience already gathered in her young career. McGrath has a very bright future in the industry and can grow and blossom into a bigger role at ESPN in the years to come as they’ve seen some more veteran faces depart.
Second, the addition of McGrath helps at least spell the narrative that ESPN is facing a talent exodus and losing out to rivals like Fox, NBC, and CBS. The hiring of McGrath shows that ESPN is still in a place to acquire some of the best talent working across the board in sports media.