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The announcement first came via three identical tweets from members of ESPN’s public relations team: Erin Andrews is leaving the sports broadcasting giant. She is perhaps the current most famous sideline journalist possibly due to her good looks, her appearance on a televised dancing competition, the case with her stalker, and her outings with celebrities. With her contract expiring at the beginning of July, rumors of networks’ lack of interest in the journalist abounded, though she quickly found a new home at Fox Sports.
This wasn’t a matter of getting fired: Andrews’ contract with ESPN was up and negotiations failed to broker a new deal. Many of her coworkers had expected her to return to the Connecticut-based broadcaster, according to Andrews in an interview with Sports Illustrated. According to two sources that Deadspin spoke to, ESPN offered a big or at least decent pay raise, so money didn’t seem to be the issue. The problem lies in that they wanted to keep her in the same job she already had, while Andrews wanted more responsibilities. She was reportedly looking for more hosting duties rather than the sideline reporting she has been doing at ESPN for eight years.
Unfortunately for Andrews, the consensus is that she can’t host. One unnamed rival sports television network executive that Deadspin interviewed said, “She can’t host. There’s no next step. And she wants more than sideline reporting, but there’s no next step.” If ESPN wanted to keep her, they could have given her increased appearances on Good Morning America, which is owned by the same parent company. Other former ESPN hosts have made the jump, including Robin Roberts and Josh Elliott.
The thing is, Andrews’ last contract included regular appearances on GMA…and they didn’t go well. In an interview after signing her last contract in 2010, Andrews revealed that she would be covering more than sports in her appearances on GMA, including “fun and lighthearted” stories, as well as reporting on crimes against women after her own experience with a stalker. Starting in August 2010, Andrews appeared on the morning show regularly. She was part of a round table featuring stalking victims, she did a segment on the Country Music Awards, and another on riding in a stock car. She was also an analyst for GMA’s coverage of Dancing with the Stars, on which she was a contestant. In an October 2010 appearance, a discussion on helmet-to-helmet hits in the NFL, Andrews flubbed many words, including the name of Buffalo’s NFL team, the Bills, which she called “Bulls” (though she corrected herself). Her GMA appearances trickled to a stop in February 2011, signaling that executives didn’t like her hosting skills
As a result of the unsuccessful appearances, many networks seemed to be wary of taking on Andrews. Deadspin reported that a source said that NBC and CBS had no interest in her, and their unnamed executive from a rival network said he would never hire her. Andrews was interested in another job with ESPN, sideline reporting for Monday Night Football, but the job went to Lisa Salters.
Despite the reported reservations of other networks, Fox Sports has signed Andrews to host a college football show, be on a NFL pregame show, and cover MLB playoffs. According to USA Today, Fox will announce her exact duties in the near future. Either Fox Sports sees some hosting potential in Andrews or they hope that her off-air activities (including rumors of dating actors, friendships with models, and discussions of whether her breasts are surgically enhanced) will draw more viewers in. ESPN has yet to announce Andrews’ replacement, although it shouldn’t be difficult as USA Today claims the sports media giant’s unofficial motto “when it comes to on-air types, is that everybody is sort of replaceable.” Current rumors suggest Jen Brown or Tom Rinaldi could take over Andrew’s position at ESPN.