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Walker and Pena Join The SEC Network

Jason Barrett

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ESPN Media Zone reports that the SEC Network, ESPN’s 24-hour television channel devoted to the Southeastern Conference, has added baseball standouts Carlos Pena and Todd Walker as analysts for the network’s extensive studio and game coverage of more than 400 SEC Network and SEC Network + produced games.

Pena had a longstanding career in Major League Baseball. He was the Texas Rangers first round draft pick (10th overall). He also made an impact at several other MLB organizations, including the Detroit Tigers, Boston Red Sox, Tampa Bay Rays, and the Kansas City Royals. He began working as a studio analyst for the MLB Network two years ago. His role with the SEC Network marks his first stint as a college commentator.

Walker brings a wealth of SEC experience, having played collegiate baseball at LSU. His time at the University earned him a spot in the College Baseball Hall of Fame, Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and the LSU Hall of Fame. He was an All-American, SEC Player of the Year and College World Series MVP in 1993. He ranks first in LSU history in career batting average and triples.

After LSU, he was the Minnesota Twins first round draft pick (8th overall) in 1994. His professional baseball career continued for twelve years at different organizations including the Colorado Rockies, Cincinnati Reds, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, San Diego Padres, and the Oakland A’s.

Pena and Walker are scheduled to appear together in-studio on Saturday, April 2, during the Missouri at No. 15 Arkansas game, and in that evening’s SEC Now post-game show.

Sports TV News

After Losing Out On Big Ten Rights, ESPN Turns Focus to NCAA Championships

According to Front Office Sports, ESPN’s contract for 29 NCAA Championships ends in 2024.

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After reportedly losing out on the Big Ten’s television rights, ESPN is reportedly turning to securing the NCAA Championship rights from hitting the open market.

According to Front Office Sports, ESPN’s contract for 29 NCAA Championships ends in 2024. Those 29 championships include everything from Women’s basketball to ice hockey, wrestling, softball, and baseball. The network pays a reported $34 million for the rights to broadcast those championship events.

However, according to a study commissioned by the NCAA reveals that the women’s basketball tournament could be worth anywhere from $81 million to $112 million per year by its lonesome. The NCAA is reportedly considering selling the women’s basketball tournament rights as a standalone product in the next negotiation.

Sources told Front Office Sports ESPN remains interested in striking deals with the Pac-12 and Big 12 media rights, as well as renewing a deal for the College Football Playoff.

The news comes after Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand reported ESPN declined a final offer from the Big Ten for a portion of the conference’s media rights. The reported deal was seven years and $380 million per year.

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Sports TV News

ESPN Announces The Return of Stephen A. Smith to First Take

ESPN announced Smith will be returning to First Take on Monday, August 15th.

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Stephen A. Smith

First Take has been without it’s anchor since the day after the NBA Draft in June. That’s when the ESPN personality took some time off to undergo shoulder surgery and to rehabilitate. However, it appears the wait for his return is almost over.

ESPN announced with a tweet that Smith will be returning to First Take on Monday, August 15th. They also teased a guest appearance from Michael Irvin.

This comes a day after Smith tweeted that the countdown was on for his return and we are one week away from the event.

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Sports TV News

Field Yates Re-Ups With ESPN

After the departure of Matthew Berry to NBC, ESPN has locked down fantasy expert Field Yates with a new contract to remain in Bristol.

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Field Yates

After the departure of Matthew Berry to NBC, ESPN has locked down fantasy expert Field Yates with a new contract to remain in Bristol.

Yates, 35, would have been a valuable target for FanDuel or DraftKings, surmises Andrew Marchand of The New York Post — who first reported the news — due to his large following on Twitter.

Yates, who also works as a host of Fantasy Football Now and NFL Insider for the network, across multiple platforms including ESPN Radio, will continue in those roles in addition to an assumed expansion of fantasy football duties after Berry’s exit.

He has worked for ESPN since 2012.

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