TV sports fixture Brent Musburger will call his final game for ESPN tonight as the longtime announcer packs his bags for a new job with the Vegas Stats & Information Network, a startup streaming outlet focused on sports gambling.
ESPN announced that Musburger will wrap up his ESPN play-by-play career with tonight’s NCAA men’s basketball showdown between Kentucky and Georgia, scheduled to air at 9 p.m. ET.
VSiN officially launches later in February, but Musburger will also be a part of a special preview show airing in connection with the Super Bowl, Sunday from 3-6 p.m. ET on SiriusXM Rush, Channel 93. Musburger co-hosts with longtime boxing analyst Al Bernstein.
VSiN will stream on multiple platforms, with a dedicated channel on SiriusXM Radio. The new channel’s official launch on SiriusXM is reportedly set for Monday, Feb. 27.
Musburger will reportedly host a daily program called “My Guys in the Desert,” airing from 6-8 p.m. ET/3-5 p.m. PT.
In a statement, Brian Musburger, the nephew of Brent Musburger and VSiN’s founder chairman, said: “Sports gambling is a multibillion-dollar industry that has been forced to operate largely underground, leaving consumers scouring the Internet and searching for winks and nods from broadcasters to inform their decisions. We’re so excited to bring together award-winning broadcasters and producers, legendary oddsmakers, as well as a team of content, tech, media and gaming experts to illustrate the legitimacy of, and science behind, this huge and underserved market.”
Brent Musburger’s tenure with ESPN and ABC Sports goes back to 1990, and was preceded by a long run with CBS Sports from 1973-1990 highlighted by Musburger’s role as one of the original broadcasters on “The NFL Today.” He has covered a wide variety of sports in his career, including the NBA, MLB, NCAA football and basketball, the Olympics and NASCAR.
Musburger was involved in a controversy earlier this month while he was working the Allstate Sugar Bowl when he reportedly said that he hopes Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon “teaches people with that brutal, violent video” of a 2014 assault of a female student. The comment followed the release in December of a video reportedly showing Mixon punching a woman inside an Oklahoma restaurant.
Musburger was heavily criticized after wishing Mixon well in his NFL career, and later defended his comments.
Musburger is quoted by USA Today saying later in the game: “Some people were upset when I wished this young man well at the next level. Let me make something perfectly clear: What he did with that young lady was brutal, uncalled for, he’s apologized, he was tearful. He got a second chance. He got a second chance from (Oklahoma head coach) Bob Stoops. I happen to pull for people with second chances, OK? Let me make it absolutely clear that I hope he has a wonderful career and he teaches people with that brutal, violent video, OK?”
Musburger has asserted that he was not forced out by ESPN, telling Sports Illustrated: “We had already started the process of me leaving. The morning after the Sugar Bowl I had breakfast with [ESPN President] John Skipper and [senior vice president of event & studio production] Stephanie Druley, and they wanted to work out a plan to keep me at ESPN. There was not even a discussion about what had been said specifically about Mixon. In fact, the only person who mentioned it to me was a telephone call two days later from [Disney Chairman] Bob Iger, who is an old friend, and he said, ‘This too shall pass.’ That was the only comment. There was no blowback. There is absolutely no connection.”