The long-rumored Katie Nolan-to-ESPN move appears one step closer to reality.
According to Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch, Nolan is negotiating a release from her Fox Spots contract, which is believed to conclude at the end of 2017. Deitsch reports that her official release is imminent.
Nolan, who joined FS1 when it launched in 2013, has appeared on the network only sparingly since her show, Garbage Time, was canceled earlier this year. Since then, rumors have flown about ESPN attempting to lure the host, and in July, Jim Miller reported that Nolan would in fact leave Fox for ESPN, either when her contract ran up or before then. Deitsch’s report suggests she has succeeded in pushing for an early release.
From the outside, Fox Sports treatment of Nolan in recent months seems thoroughly bizarre. Nolan has a unique voice, a clear talent in front of the camera, and legions of loyal fans. She is widely considered a rising star in sports media, despite having been off the air for more than six months. Even if Fox didn’t like Garbage Time, how could the network not have made a more serious effort to build a program around her? How could they have offered a daily show to Clay Travis before her? How could they have apparently alienated one of their biggest stars?
Asked in August why Nolan didn’t have a show, Fox Sports president Eric Shanks responded, “I’m wondering that question too” and said, “We’d love to keep Katie as part of the Fox Sports family, either now or in the future.” Shanks reiterated that point to Deitsch on Tuesday:
“That is not something we are going to answer tonight,” Shanks said. “But you know I am super fond of Katie and she is an amazing talent,” Shanks continued. “I hope she is at Fox Sports for a long time because I think she is a unique voice.”
But despite Shanks’ comments, it seems that the Katie Nolan era at FS1 will come to an end sooner rather than later. We’ll soon see whether she winds up at ESPN and whether she makes Fox Sports sorry to have let her go.