Detroiter, MSU alum Hill to co-anchor ‘SportsCenter’

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Michigan State University School of Journalism alum Jemele Hill will join the anchor rotation for ESPN’s “SportsCenter,” taking over the 6 p.m. weekday slot starting in February.

A Detroit native, Hill has worked at ESPN since November 2006, most recently as a co-host of “His & Hers” with Michael Smith.

Hill and Smith will co-host “SportsCenter.”

“This is just surreal for both of us,” Hill said in a statement sent out by the network. “For us to be associated with the cornerstone brand of ESPN is beyond thrilling. There is such a rich history and tradition associated with ‘SportsCenter’ that it’s a little overwhelming, but we’re eager to leave our own mark.”

ESPN said in making the announcement Tuesday that it wants Hill and Smith’s conversational style incorporated into “SportsCenter.”

The reasoning is this: By 6 p.m. each day, 3 p.m. Pacific, most sports fans are already aware of the news of the day, Hill and Smith will include more commentary and opinion, not unlike their “His & Hers” show which will be discontinued at a date TBD.

“Jemele and Michael have unique chemistry and impressive journalistic credentials, and we look forward to bringing their entertaining mix of perspective and passion to ‘SportsCenter,’ ” Rob King, ESPN senior vice president, said in a statement.

“This is another major step in the evolution of ‘SportsCenter.’ ”

ESPN has been trying to spice up “SportsCenter” for quite some time, as social media has negated much of the demand for simple highlights. Recently, ESPN put zany Scott Van Pelt on as the late-night anchor.

Hill has been a part of “His & Hers” since 2013, when the show was known as “Numbers Never Lie.” The program was rebranded to its current format in 2014, with Smith and Hill as the permanent hosts.

Lindsey Czarniak currently anchors the 6 p.m. “SportsCenter,” but is going on maternity leave in November. She will be replaced in the interim by Zubin Mehenti, Matt Barrie and others until Hill and Smith take over full-time next year.

Czarniak will return to ESPN next year in a role that will be announced later. @tonypaul1984