Former “SportsCenter” Host Michael Smith Reaches “Fair” Buyout With ESPN

Michael Smith Reaches Buyout With ESPN
Michael Smith and Jemele Hill host a show before the 2017 NBA Finals. (Jesse Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty)

Michael Smith, who co-hosted a re-branded version of SportsCenter with Jemele Hill that delivered more controversy than ratings, has finally reached a buyout with ESPN.

Smith, who, like Hill, signed a four-year contract worth $10 million after landing the gig fronting the Worldwide Leader’s flagship show, has rarely been seen or heard from in recent months.

Apparently that will end as the buyout will now allow him to take a job as the executive vice president and chief content officer for a Hollywood-based startup called (Co)laboratory, according to The New York Post.

Smith, 40, called the buyout with ESPN “fair,” but was more interested in talking about his new start with (Co)laboratory.

“It is really a unique startup,” Smith told The Post. “It is a studio and startup incubator that is going to bring together the best of Hollywood and the sports world.”

In his new role, Smith will continue to be an on-air talent but will also work on projects behind the scenes. It’s an opportunity he likely would not have had at ESPN.

“I was ready for a new chapter,” Smith said. “I was ready for a new challenge. I’ve been at ESPN for 15 years. I’ve worn pretty much every hat imaginable. Realistically, the opportunities that were available to me at this point, I don’t know how much growth they truly represented, especially compared to this opportunity.”

Hill, who now writes for The Atlantic, also secured a buyout from ESPN following the SportsCenter flop.

In related sports media news, The Wall Street Journal reports Sports Illustrated‘s new operator, TheMaven Inc., is planning to lay off more than 40 employees today and will replace them with up to 200 contract workers.

Christian Stone, the magazine’s editor in chief, is also leaving the publication after seven years and TheMaven announced the appointment of two editors in chief, Steve Cannella and Ryan Hunt, in his place, The WSJ reports.

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