Lindsay Czarniak joined ESPN in 2011, working primarily as a SportsCenter anchor for six years until her most recent contract expired in August. Czarniak had hosted the 6 P.M. edition of SportsCenter prior to ESPN reformatting the timeslot as a showcase for Michael Smith and Jemele Hill, and Czarniak’s role with ESPN was unclear.

In an interview with The Washington Post, Czarniak discussed why she left ESPN, her tweet in support of Jemele Hill, and what she hopes to do next:

After six years in Bristol, Czarniak no longer works for ESPN. Her contract expired over the summer, and while she had an offer to return, she and the network could not settle upon a time slot and a role that both sides found appealing.

[…]

She had been the host of ESPN’s 6 p.m. SportsCenter program for more than two years, taking the show on the road to the World Series, the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals and other A-list events.

“It was like the country was your sports playground,” she said.

But while she was on maternity leave after the birth of her daughter last November, the network announced that it was changing the format of her show, turning it into a vehicle for Hill and her co-host, Michael Smith. (Czarniak knew about the pending switch before she went on her leave.) When that news began to emerge, Hill emailed Czarniak, explaining how excited she was but also expressing concern for her friend.

The first hint many people had that Czarniak wouldn’t be returning to ESPN was when she tweeted in support of Jemele Hill after Hill was suspended:

Czarniak talked about why she felt it was important to support Hill, despite the fact that Hill essentially supplanted her at ESPN:

“I did not and I do not think that it was the right move to do that, to suspend [Hill] for that,” Czarniak said in a phone conversation this week. “I just feel like it’s really important to back people up, and to support one another, and I don’t think that’s something that always happens.”

[…]

“The reason that they’re there, doing that [show], is because they’re great at voicing their opinions,” Czarniak said. “Regardless of how you feel about there not being a suspension for the previous comments, I was just shocked that that was what they decided to suspend her for. And I also felt for her, because they are so good at doing what they do. And I think it’s really difficult to then come back and do what you do. I just think she’s in a very difficult place.”

Czarniak seems to be enjoying her free agency at the moment, and should she ever decide to return to sports media, there’s little doubt she’d be in demand, and less doubt that she’d be a welcome presence for many viewers.

[Washington Post]

About Jay Rigdon

Jay is a writer and editor for The Comeback, and a contributor at Awful Announcing. He is not a strong swimmer.

  • sportsfan365

    Czarniak was easy on the eyes but basically had little or nothing to offer in the way of insight.

    • reneed

      agree

    • StoJa

      You’ve described 95% of the media, male or female.

      • RJ2008

        But the males are not “easy on the eyes.”

    • nbtx27

      Based on what she said here, that is still the case.

  • Scott Fitzgerald

    For anyone who doesn’t know Lindsay Czarniak got pregnant, went on maternity leave, and lost her job as the 6pm Sportscenter host. Amazing that nobody in the sports media talks about this.

    • noonan18

      You can bet if she was black, the media would be in a huge uproar over this.

      • Walt_Gekko

        Her husband (NBC News’s Craig Melvin) is black.

        • Deon Hamner

          crickets from the bigots… They weren’t ready for that

  • Rosta

    Lindsay was terrific hosting the 6pm SportsCenter, and Zubin Menenti too as her backup. ESPN’s change of course, elevating His&Her which got no ratings; the creation of this SC6, the enormous advertising campaign, the huge 3 year contracts for each host, and the personal/politcal agendas by the new hosts have all been a series of mistakes by ESPN. Jemele Hill is actually the problem, I actually watched ‘The Six’ these last couple weeks without her, and Michael Smith has been back to his old self, and hosted some good shows following his childish sit out on the Monday, and the sulking during the Tuesday show. ESPN spent millions on advertising the new show, millions more for the new hosts while getting rid of some great sports journalists, especially during the May purge. SC6 is unwatchable with Micheal and Jemele and I’ll turn it off again when she returns, making PTI the only decent ESPN program helmed by seasoned sports journalists. I’ll keep an eye on The Jump and SportsNation too, those shows are perfect for banter and they’re informative and hilarious, but SportsCenter should be for sports highlights, that’s the DNA of the show and the network. 6PM SportsCenter, no one wants to hear the garbage His&Her are talking about, we want highlights, news from the day while we were at work, and what’s on tap for tonight – that’s what Lindsey and the old SportsCenter, her traveling road show served up perfectly. Hopefully Lindsey and all the other great sports journalists forced out or who ‘let their contracts expire’ all land firmly on their feet and have great next chapters in their careers.

    • DrewShervin

      My sentiments exactly SC at 6pm should be highlights and previewing the evening’s games.

  • noonan18

    Just another example of affirmative action at work. If Lindsay is not upset about getting booted from Sportscenter for the garbage they have there now, my guess is she didn’t want to stay there anyway.

    • Deon Hamner

      Don’t you have an Alt-Right protest to attend?

  • Walt_Gekko

    I would not be surprised if she eventually joins her husband (Craig Melvin) at NBC. That would at this point make for sense for her. She may simply want to spend more time with her children for now.