A veteran sportscaster who became a fixture on ESPN during his almost 30 years with the network has died. ESPN announced that John Saunders died today at 61.
His cause of death was not announced.
Saunders, who joined ESPN in 1986, hosted “The Sports Reporters,” starting with the illness and subsequent death of Dick Schaap in September 2001. He previously co-hosted “NFL Primetime” from 1987 to 1989.
Saunders covered the NHL as studio host of NHL broadcasts for ESPN for more than 10 years, until 2004. He also was the studio host for ABC’s college football coverage, and was a part of ABC’s “Baseball Night in America.”
In a statement, John Skipper, president of ESPN and co-chairman of Disney Media Networks, said of Saunders: “John was an extraordinary talent and his friendly, informative style has been a warm welcome to sports fans for decades. His wide range of accomplishments across numerous sports and championship events is among the most impressive this industry has ever seen. More importantly, John was a beloved and devoted family man who cared deeply about people and causes, as evidenced by his long-standing efforts as a passionate board member for The V Foundation for Cancer Research.”
An emotional Stephen A. Smith talked about Saunders this morning on “First Take,” soon after getting the news of his death. You can watch the clip below.