Jemele Hill, the up-and-coming “SportsCenter” anchor who drew extra scrutiny to ESPN after making pointed remarks about President Donald Trump, will leave the program and focus on assignments in other parts of the Walt Disney-owned company, according to people familiar with the situation.
These people characterized the move as one requested by Hill. Michael Smith, her co-anchor in the 6 p.m. hour of “SportsCenter,” is expected to continue to anchor the hour on his own, according to one of these people. Hill’s last day on the program is expected to take place next week, just a few days before Super Bowl LII takes place. She is expected to, among other things, join ESPN’s “The Undefeated,” an ESPN digital-news outlet that analyzes sports, race and culture. The pair launched their new edition of “SportsCenter,” known as “SC6,” in February of last year.
In September, Hill sparked controversy by posting a tweet that referred to President Trump as a “white supremacist.” The White House called for her to be fired. At the time, ESPN said her views did not represent those of the network. After Hill subsequently tweeted a suggestion that her followers boycott the Dallas Cowboys because of his stance relating to his players and protests during the playing of the national anthem, ESPN suspended her for two weeks.
Hill has in recent interviews expressed regret for the episode – not for the remarks she made, but in using social media to express them. “I have more regrets about the medium because as most of us find out every day in some form or fashion that Twitter is not necessarily a place for nuance,” Hill told Sports Illustrated earlier this month. “Twitter’s not even really a place where you want to have some extensive conversation, especially about race. Twitter’s just not built or set up for that. It’s built on quick thoughts, okay, and that’s not something to have quick thoughts about. So I don’t really have any regrets about the language that I used, because I do think that there is some evidence to at least where we can question some of the things that he’s said and done, and for that matter, examine why there are clearly large groups of people, women, people of color, who feel they’re very vulnerable at this time and under attack. I don’t regret what I said or even the language that I used. It’s just the where. I think the where is problematic.”
Hill is said to be early into a four-year contract with ESPN. Among the other things she may do at the company is host issues-based forums, and do long-form enterprise reports. She may also look into podcasting.
Hill began to rise at ESPN with the launch of the “His & Hers” podcast with Smith in 2011. Their exchanges became so popular that Hill joined Smith’s ESPN2 program “Numbers Never Lie” in 2013. Within a year, the show was re-titled “His & Hers.”
The Hollywood Reporter previously reported news of Hill’s departure from “SportsCenter.”