Tuesday night’s telecast will be the first to feature Smith solo. He and Hill have co-anchored the 6 p.m. show — billed as “SC6” — since February. Smith will be joined for the next two weeks by various guests in studio and via satellite providing reporting and analysis for various segments, but none will be serving in a co-anchor capacity.
ESPN on Monday suspended Hill for two weeks. The move came in response to statements the anchor made on Twitter encouraging fans to apply pressure to NFL advertisers as a counter to mandates from owners of the Miami Dolphins and Dallas Cowboys that players stand during pregame performances of national anthem. The suspension came one month after ESPN became embroiled in controversy over a tweet by Hill calling President Donald Trump a white supremacist.
“Jemele Hill has been suspended for two weeks for a second violation of our social media guidelines,” ESPN said in a statement Monday. “She previously acknowledged letting her colleagues and company down with an impulsive tweet. In the aftermath, all employees were reminded of how individual tweets may reflect negatively on ESPN and that such actions would have consequences. Hence this decision.”
ESPN this year rebuilt the 6 p.m. hour of SportsCenter around Hill and Smith, two rising stars at who had found success on their ESPN2 show “His and Hers,” a discussion and debate program that had evolved in part from the hosts’ podcast of the same name. “SC6” relies more heavily on commentary and debate than other iterations of “SportsCenter,” and Hill and Smith have occasionally laced social issues and pop culture into their show.
After Hill was suspended Monday, Smith sat out that evening’s telecast — a decision a network source characterized as mutually made by Smith and ESPN. Matt Barrie hosted “SportsCenter” from 6-9 p.m. on ESPN2 in the hosts’ absence, as “Monday Night Football” and pregame show “Monday Night Countdown” aired on ESPN.
Trump on Tuesday chimed in on the latest dust-up involving Hill and ESPN, writing on Twitter, “With Jemele Hill at the mike, it is no wonder ESPN ratings have “tanked,” in fact, tanked so badly it is the talk of the industry!”