There are major shifts underway in terms of who is overseeing NFL and college football content at ESPN. Some of that was perhaps to be expected after the network’s decision last week to cut ties with 25-year veteran Lee Fitting, their senior vice president of production who had been particularly overseeing college football and NFL content in recent years.
But we now know who will be stepping into those roles. That came from John Ourand of Sports Business Journal reporting Tuesday on these changes, based on a memo from ESPN executive editor and head of event and studio production Norby Williamson. That memo notes that post-Fitting, Amanda Gifford is set to become ESPN’s point person on college football, with Mark Gross taking over NFL studio and event production. Here’s more from Ourand’s piece:
VP Production Amanda Gifford makes, perhaps, the biggest jump, as she becomes the day-to-day point person on college football. Gifford will oversee all college football event productions, including CFP games and spring football games. Gifford now reports directly into Williamson. Coordinating Producers Bryan Jaroch and Nick Rud will report into Gifford on football.
SVP/Production and Remote Events Mark Gross also made a big move, adding the NFL studio and event productions to his plate. Gross, who will report to Williamson, also will oversee the ESPN Radio Network and local radio programming. VP/Executive Producer Seth Markman and VP/Production Steve Ackels will report to Gross.
Ourand outlines some other notable changes there as well, including long-tenured vice president (production) Jamie Reynolds leaving ESPN after the current ongoing US Open tennis tournament and vice president/executive producer Mike McQuade now overseeing all tennis productions. McQuade will report to Gross on boxing, tennis, and the NHL, and to Williamson on golf and SportsCenter with Scott Van Pelt.
Beyond that, there are changes for several other ESPN figures. Amongst those, vice president (production) Phil Orlins will add a leadership role for technology and innovation initiatives, while vice president and executive producer (original content) Andy Tennant is adding responsibility for the Rose Parade, New York City Marathon, Boston Marathon, and Hot Dog Eating Contest. Senior vice president (production and content strategy) Maria Soares will oversee the 6 p.m. SportsCenter, while Shawn Murphy is adding responsibility for high school, FCS, D2, and D3 football, as well as SEC Network content.
It’s certainly interesting to see some of what ESPN’s football content leadership strategy in particular looks like in a post-Fitting era. And while almost everyone here is reporting to Williamson in some fashion, it’s still notable to see who’s given specific responsibility for what. We’ll see how this approach works for them.