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Chiney Ogwumike Joins ESPN on a Full Time Basis

Brandon Contes

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WNBA star forward, Chiney Ogwumike signed a multi-year contract with ESPN as a full-time basketball analyst and will continue her career playing for the Connecticut Sun.

The 26 year old has been with the network part-time for the past three years, getting her first opportunity after suffering a knee injury, forcing her to miss the entire 2015 WNBA season.

While rehabbing her injury, Ogwumike filled in on ESPN’s His and Hers as well as First Take. The former WNBA Rookie of the Year award winner was again sidelined for the 2017 season due to injury and helped ESPN launch SportsCenter Africa.

Now, healthy for the 2018 WNBA season, Ogwumike will continue her basketball and broadcasting career in a full-time role, contributing to multiple ESPN platforms including regular appearances on SportsCenter and The Jump.

Working for ESPN full-time while playing a professional sport will certainly be difficult, but Ogwumike will mostly cover the NBA which plays the majority of its season during her off-season. People ask, “How are you going to be a full time WNBA player and a full time NBA analyst?’ Well, technically those things only overlap for one month,” Ogwumike told Essence.com.

For some professional female basketball players, a second job is necessary. WNBA players are not highly compensated, forcing many of the league’s athletes to find jobs during the off-season, or play in another country where the pay is generally more than it is in the United States.

“Everyone knows we don’t get paid as much as the men, granted we only play one-third of the NBA season. But the reality is, WNBA players are underpaid, which means your number one option as a player is to go and play overseas where they pay two to three times more than what we make in the WNBA,” Ogwumike said.

From the ESPN release , Ogwumike expressed her excitement in joining the network full-time. “I am beyond thrilled to continue to grow with ESPN in this expanded role. I am extremely fortunate to be able to play at the highest level of women’s professional basketball while also contributing as a diverse voice to the worldwide leader in sports. It is truly the best of both worlds, being able to pursue my passions both on and off the court.”

Ogwumike also understands there is a need for younger females to see people they can relate to when watching sports, “My hope is to inspire the rising generation, especially young girls, to continue to defy expectations and create their own path,” she said

In an industry largely dominated by white males, men and women from all backgrounds should be featured in sports coverage to reach a broader audience. Being a minority on television doesn’t worry her, Ogwumike told Essence “I don’t feel any pressure because being young, female, African, and being there is already a win.” She continued, “People may be quicker to judge when you’re not what they expect, but I’m really excited to prove people wrong.”

Brandon Contes is a freelance writer for BSM. He can be found on Twitter @BrandonContes. To reach him by email click here.

Sports TV News

Rece Davis Believes Final Regular Season College GameDay Show Typically Most Hectic Due to Coaching Changes

“There were so many coaching changes and decisions, and we’re getting people on the phone. That was before everybody got comfortable with FaceTime.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Rece Davis

College GameDay was in Columbus this past weekend ahead of Ohio State’s annual rivalry game against Michigan, and host Rece Davis said a number of head coaching announcements throughout the show made for some pretty chaotic moments.

Luke Fickell being named the new head coach at Wisconsin and former Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule being hired at Nebraska were among the marquee hirings announced over the weekend.

On the College GameDay Podcast, Davis said trying to get information confirmed and incorporated into the show in real time was exhilarating.

“It was a bizarre, fun show that we’ve had over the years when we’ve gone to Ohio State/Michigan,” he said. “I remember the ’16 year that we extended the show to five hours. It was really fun, and then a really great game followed it. And there were so many coaching changes and decisions, and we’re getting people on the phone. That was before everybody got comfortable with FaceTime. But there were a lot of bizarre things going on.”

Podcast co-host and senior college football reporter Pete Thamel echoed Davis’ sentiments, saying he would do a hit on the show, then take out his earpiece and immediately get back on the phone to work on getting the most up to date information.

“It was whoa,” he said. “We did the first segment…and normally I would’ve stayed and watched to see what the guys had to say, but I just walked off the stage and went back and started making calls.”

In addition to the Wisconsin and Nebraska hirings, Thamel was also working on trying to figure out the situation at Auburn. He helped get Rhule on the show as well, and he said it was cool the show’s team was able to book guests so quickly from different locations in the country.

“We literally went coast to coast on GameDay with good interviews on Saturday,” he said.

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Sports TV News

Disney CEO Bob Iger: Company Will Chase Profitability Over Growing Subscriber Base

“We have to start chasing profitability. It will be demanded of us.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Change is abound at Disney, but it’s welcomed change. CEO Bob Iger, who was announced as the replacement for Bob Chapek last week, said his goal is to help get the company’s financial ship righted.

“We have to start chasing profitability,” Iger told employees and executives at a town hall. “It will be demanded of us.”

Iger announced one of his first moves in returning to the CEO role was to shake up its digital media and entertainment distribution division. That branch of the company oversees its streaming services like Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+. Disney+ boasts tens of millions of subscribers, and Chapek focused heavily on reaching as many people as possible.

But Disney stock price has shrunk sharply over the course of the last year, and there have been other areas of the company in which there has been discourse. There was some belief that Disney could be up for sale.

Iger hopes things at the company can be turned around in due course, but he made one thing for certain: Disney and its properties are not for sale.

“Nothing is forever, but I’m very comfortable with the set of assets that we have,” he said. “I think they can serve our company, don’t expect any headlines soon about deals.”

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Sports TV News

YES Network Considering Derek Jeter and Don Mattingly for Analyst Roles

“I have something else burning fairly hot right now,” Mattingly said. “Depends how that goes.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Could Yankees fans see and hear from two of the franchise’s most beloved former players on TV next season? It’s not out of the realm of possibility. The New York Post reported Monday the team’s YES Network appeared to have an interest in bringing in Derek Jeter and Don Mattingly.

But according to the network’s president of programming and production John Filippelli, it’s all speculative at this point.

“We haven’t had any in-depth discussion with either,” he told Andrew Marchand. “If they are A) available and B) interested, you probably at least have to have a conversation.”

Marchand reached out to Mattingly, who finished his run as manager of the Miami Marlins at the end of the 2022 season, and the former Dodgers manager seemed to indicate that there is another potential opportunity in the works.

“I have something else burning fairly hot right now,” Mattingly said. “Depends how that goes.”

Jeter will likely be a hard sell on getting into the booth. The understanding is the legendary former shortstop doesn’t have a big interest in getting into broadcasting like his former teammate Alex Rodriguez.

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