After rotating through a group of anchors for the 6 p.m. edition of SportsCenter, following the removal of SC6, ESPN will name Sage Steele and Kevin Negandhi as permanent hosts of the show, according to Richard Deitsch of The Athletic.
A report from Andrew Marchand of The New York Post states the show will not return to being called SC6 and will instead remain as SportsCenter. Steele and Negandhi are expected to begin hosting the 6 p.m. SportsCenter beginning Monday, May 14.
The move means the SC6 era, which debuted February of 2017, officially comes to an end on ESPN. Fair or unfair, the show hosted by Jemele Hill and Michael Smith, spent a lot of time under fire due to opinions that entered topics beyond sports. Hill left the program in January of 2018, with Smith departing in March after anchoring the show solo for a little over one month.
Steele and Negandhi are stepping in at a time where the 6 p.m. SportsCenter has enjoyed a recent ratings increase, according to ESPN. During a press release regarding Stephen A Smith’s increased role with SportsCenter during the NBA Finals, the network also mentioned the 6 p.m. edition’s ratings increased by four percent in March and nine percent in April when compared to the corresponding months from one year ago. The ratings increase, promoted by ESPN, directly followed the departure of Jemele Hill and Michael Smith from the program.
The recent ratings success could put additional pressure on Steele and Negandhi to continue the trend as they step in as permanent co-anchors. It remains to be seen whether or not the new 6 p.m. edition of SportsCenter will be pressed to “stick to sports,” but in a differing of opinion from SC6, Steele has shared conservative viewpoints including her disagreement with NFL players kneeling during the anthem.
Steele was also one of the few colleagues that did not support Jemele Hill during her criticisms of President Trump. “I think Jemele is a completely different story in that she put that onto herself of her own volition. Sam had been attacked,” Steele said regarding ESPN personalities being attacked for their opinions during a January interview with Refinery29. “I think that’s an important distinction.”
Steele who joined ESPN in 2007, and Negandhi who was hired in 2006 , have both worked together on SportsCenter:AM since Steele joined the program in August 2017.