After months of speculation and presumption (both of which picked up considerably over the past week), Katie Nolan and ESPN are finally a thing. Sports Illustrated’s Jimmy Traina reports that Nolan has been hired by ESPN and an official announcement is expected to be made Wednesday.
Nolan moving to ESPN has been speculated upon by sports media observers since FS1 canceled her show Garbage Time in February. At the time, the question was whether or not FS1 would bring back the show in a different format, build another showcase for Nolan or even find a different role for her across the network’s platform of studio programming. The other possibility was jumping to ESPN, which had shown interest in Nolan ever since Garbage Time wasn’t renewed.
Last week, SI’s Richard Deitsch reported that Nolan was negotiating an early release from her contract, which is believed to run through the end of 2017. Deitsch said the release was imminent, and if ESPN has hired her and is ready to make an announcement, it’s fair to assume that she successfully got out of her deal. The terms haven’t been revealed, but with Nolan just sitting on the sidelines while FS1 apparently had no plans for her, perhaps she was simply allowed to leave.
ESPN and Nolan had been in discussions anyway, with Jim Miller revealing that the network offered her a role on the upcoming Mike Greenberg morning show. However, Nolan turned it down, presumably because she didn’t want to be a small cog in a larger program. Miller speculated that she might have a roving position across a variety of ESPN programming, notably the shows produced by Erik Rydholm, which include Around the Horn, Pardon the Interruption and Highly Questionable. Another possibility is taking over SportsNation, now that host Michelle Beadle is joining the Greenberg show, but that show is produced in Los Angeles and it’s believed Nolan would prefer to stay in New York.
Nolan had been with FS1 since 2013, when she was part of the show Crowd Goes Wild as a digital correspondent. After CGW was canceled, she hosted a web series for FS1 titled No Filter with Katie Nolan. In 2015, she began hosting Garbage Time, which was envisioned as a nighttime program for FS1, though it only ran once a week and was often either pre-empted or pushed to a later time because of live events. Her hiring preceded Jamie Horowitz taking over as Fox Sports president, and it’s believed that Horowitz showed little interest in talent he didn’t hire nor shows he didn’t develop, despite Nolan’s popularity.
UPDATE: In its official release announcing Nolan’s hire, ESPN confirmed Miller’s speculation that she’ll have a broader role across the network. Nolan “will have a prominent digital presence while also making appearances across ESPN studio programming.” Her specific assignments will be announced at a later date. She will officially join ESPN on Oct. 16.
“Katie is smart, dynamic and brings to ESPN a fresh perspective and a great sense of humor. She is a rare talent and will represent our brand incredibly well as we continue to expand across the digital space,” said Connor Schell, ESPN’s executive vice president for content.