While much hand-wringing and plenty of keystrokes have been dedicated to Jemele Hill’s exit from ESPN’s SportsCenter, Hill herself has maintained that the move to ESPN’s The Undefeated property can be attributed to a few simple reasons. Hill has stated she wanted to move back to reporting, and in an exclusive talk with Brian Steinberg of Variety, Hill says being on ESPN’s flagship show just wasn’t for her.
“The function of SportsCenter is not necessarily built for anchor commentary,” Hill said. “So much of my career at ESPN—almost exclusively at some points—has been in commentary. They hired me as a columnist. I’ve been giving my opinion since day one. SportsCenter really wasn’t my calling.”
Hill didn’t indicate exactly when she approached ESPN content chief Connor Schell about the move, but it appears she didn’t waste much time getting back to the bread and butter of commentary. Approximately a week before formally announcing her move, Hill penned a piece for The Undefeated entitled “Michigan State Needs to Wear This Shame.” In the piece Hill took her alma mater to task for the school’s role in Larry Nassar’s molestation of over 100 gymnasts.
People may presumably focus on Hill tweeting that President Trump is a white supremacist when the subject of commentary is brought up. To some, it may look like ESPN might be trying to put her in a less prominent position because of the tweets, but Hill has been doing commentary for a while on ESPN’s The Sports Reporters and Numbers Never Lie before she and Michael Smith teamed up as hosts for the 6:00 p.m. edition of SportsCenter.
“If this was supposed to be a ruse to bury me somewhere in a corner of ESPN, I didn’t get that feeling,” Hill said. “I know it may not be the sexiest story to tell, but the truth is I miss writing and reporting.”