ESPN’s John Saunders passes away at 61

Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire

It’s a sad day at ESPN and a sad day for the sports world as a whole. John Saunders, one of the most talented and versatile studio hosts and founding member of the board of directors for The V Foundation for Cancer Research, has passed away at the age of 61.

ESPN President John Skipper released the following statement:

“John was an extraordinary talent and his friendly, informative style has been a warm welcome to sports fans for decades. His wide range of accomplishments across numerous sports and championship events is among the most impressive this industry has ever seen. More importantly, John was a beloved and devoted family man who cared deeply about people and causes, as evidenced by his long-standing efforts as a passionate board member for The V Foundation for Cancer Research. He was one of the most significant and influential members of the ESPN family, as a colleague and mentor, and he will be sorely missed. Our thoughts are with his loved ones at this extremely difficult time.”

Saunders joined ESPN in 1986 and was one of the network’s most tenured commentators. He received his start as a SportsCenter anchor, but he hosted and handled play-by-play assignments for multiple sports in his 31 years with ESPN. He will probably be most remembered for his time spent on ABC’s Saturday studio coverage of college football.

Other sports viewers will recall Saunders as the host of The Sports Reporters, a Sunday morning roundtable of sports journalists. Saunders appeared as the show’s host since its inception in 2001.

In more recent years, he anchored studio coverage of the College Football Playoff National Championship and hosted the post game trophy presentations.

Most importantly, Saunders cared about the community. He was a founding member and served on the board of directors for The V Foundation for Cancer Research. He was also an active mentor to young and aspiring journalists.

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