Neil Everett Could Be Next Big Talent Leaving ESPN

    • 21-year run could come to an end with his contract expiring this summer.
    • ESPN continues to play hardball in talent negotiations after the pandemic.

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Neil Everett, a staple at ESPN for 21 years, could leave the network this summer, sources told Front Office Sports.

Everett, 59, has been a fixture on the 1 a.m. ET “SportsCenter” with longtime partner Stan Verrett. 

Everett’s current deal with ESPN expires this summer, said sources. 

But ESPN might not want to break up the chemistry between Everett and Verrett, who both moved to the West Coast in March of 2009, to co-host the 1 a.m. ET SportsCenter. Only a decade later, their show often draws the largest SportsCenter audience of the day.

During his time with ESPN, Everett has interviewed many of the biggest names in sports, including the late Kobe Bryant. His hip, laconic style has inspired multiple parody accounts on Twitter. 

The Spokane, Wash., native cut his teeth on local Hawaiian television news before joining ESPN in July of 2000. He’s appeared in many of the comedic “This is SportsCenter” commercials.

If Everett leaves, his departure would continue a string of on-air talents leaving ESPN, including Kenny Mayne, Dan Le Batard, Mike Golic Sr., and Ariel Helwani.

ESPN is still signing plenty of deals. This year, the network announced new contracts for Chris Berman, Rece Davis, Michael Eaves, Charly Arnolt, and Tony Reali. 

Like other sports networks, ESPN believes some salaries spun out of control. After the financial hit sustained during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s closely examining every deal coming up for renewal, said sources.

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Describing himself as a “salary cap casualty,” Mayne recently left ESPN after a 27-year run. 

During an interview with The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch, Mayne said ESPN offered him a 61% pay cut and 14% reduction in his work load. Mayne was earning an estimated $1.7 million a year.

“They made an offer and I wasn’t exactly flattered and decided to reject it,” Mayne explained. 

Helwani, meanwhile, was also asked to take a pay cut, according to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post. Helwani said leaving ESPN was his decision and that his final day will be June 15.

On June 9, ESPN announced that Verrett had signed a multi-year contract extension to continue hosting the 1 a.m. SportsCenter as well occasional 11 p.m. ET editions from Los Angeles. 

The announcement made no specific mention of Everett. Back in 2015, ESPN jointly announced it was extending Everett and Verrett.

That raises the question whether Verrett would continue to anchor the 1 a.m. show without his longtime partner. Or if ESPN would slide another personality into Everett’s chair. Everett has personally referred to himself and Verrett as “joined at the hip.”

ESPN declined to comment.