By Evan Bleier / April 11, 2019

What Happened to ESPN’s $10-Million Man, Michael Smith?

Jemele Hill's former "SportsCenter" co-host is never on-air and has been largely forgotten

Michael Smith and Jemele Hill on "SportsCenter." (Photo by Bruce Yeung/NBAE via Getty Images)
Michael Smith and Jemele Hill on "SportsCenter." (Photo by Bruce Yeung/NBAE via Getty Images)

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Two years ago, Michael Smith and Jemele Hill were pegged to head up a fresh version of ESPN’s flagship show SportsCenter and given new four-year, $10 million contracts as compensation.

Now, Hill is gone after walking away with a seven-figure settlement and Smith is left behind at the Worldwide Leader, essentially twiddling his thumbs and collecting a paycheck.

Smith is rarely on-air, which is somewhat of a choice because, under the terms of his contract, he has the right to decline any assignments that aren’t hosting Sportscenter.

But ESPN also hasn’t given Smith many assignments to choose from and has instead relegated him to guest appearances on Highly Questionable, High Noon, PTI and Around The Horn, sources told The New York Post. 

That isn’t likely to change as SportsCenter’s ratings have gone up since Smith and Hill departed and were replaced with Sage Steele and Kevin Negandhi.

With the show succeeding, Smith is basically forgotten and he may remain that way unless the network can figure out a way to use his talents.

The Post theorizes ESPN will.

“With his versatility and ESPN’s endless opportunities, reason would say both sides would be able to find more value in Smith’s $2.5 million salary per year,” according to the publication. “ESPN+, which is viewed as the future of the company, has a once-a-week program hosted by Katie Nolan. Could a show like that work for Smith? If not Plus, Smith has been a reporter, a host, an analyst and opinionist for nearly 15 years. There are a lot places Smith could be used. For now, though, he remains in ESPN, Gold-Plated Purgatory.”

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