When ESPN released their college football announcing lineup for the 2015 season, a couple readers noticed a subtle change that didn’t get much attention. Samantha Ponder was no longer listed as the sideline reporter for Thursday night games, a position she had held for the last couple seasons. Kaylee Hartung, who like Ponder is a Longhorn Network grad, is the new sideline reporter on Thursday nights.
Ponder has quickly become one of the best sideline reporters in the industry, adding insight and enthusiasm to one of the tougher jobs to make a personal stamp on in the industry. She was still listed as a contributor to ESPN’s College GameDay coverage, so why would she no longer be on the sidelines?
Via Ponder’s Instagram page, we now have the answer: she’s stepping away from the sidelines to spend more time with her young family:
Took this picture during halftime of an ASU/WSU game 2 years ago because an hour before game time I found out I was pregnant with Scout. It was the most nervous I’ve ever been doing a game because I couldn’t stop thinking about how my life was about to change. All that to say, I decided to hang up my sideline reporter… uh… flats(?) so that I can spend more time investing in my husband, daughter and new dreams. Taking Scout away from her dad 5 days a week was incredibly difficult for me and Christian but I wanted to honor the commitment I made. Thank you to everyone w/Thursday Night Football & everyone at every school we covered who treated me with respect and kindness. I will never forget the last 4 years of games and more importantly, relationships. I will still be annoying you all day Friday & Saturday on CFBLive, Sportscenter & College Gameday. Thanks for all your support in this exciting new time for me and my family. ❤️
Even though she’s “retiring” from sideline reporting, it’s good to know that Ponder will still be a part of ESPN’s college football coverage moving forward in a new way.