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Erin Andrews leaves ESPN; Fox Sports next?

SI.com has learned that Fox Sports is aggressively pursuing ESPN sportscaster Erin Andrews for a role at its network. The network's executives recently met with Andrews regarding a major role in Fox's college football coverage.

Shortly after SI.com reported the news that Fox was pursuing Andrews, ESPN released a statement that said Andrews had left the network. "Erin Andrews is leaving ESPN," an ESPN spokesperson said. "She did great work for us and we made an aggressive offer to keep her. We wish her the best on her next chapter."

Contacted by SI.com, a Fox Sports spokesperson declined comment.

Said Lewis Kay, a representative for Andrews: "We are not in a position to discuss Erin's next career move."

Andrews' contract with ESPN concluded at the end of June. Her last on-air assignment for ESPN came in mid-March with its ACC college basketball tournament.

Fox has invested heavily in college football over the last 24 months, including entering a 12-year agreement with the Pac-12 this year covering broadcast, national and local cable, and digital assets. They'll air a minimum of eight regular-season football games on FOX Sports, and at least four in primetime. Last year Fox Sports and the Big 12 Conference reached a 13-year agreement for exclusive cable rights to 40 football games per season.

With the added inventory comes a need for staffers. Last year Fox hired Gus Johnson as its lead gamecaller for its college football coverage, and adding Andrews would be another major broadcasting figure in college football to compete with ESPN.

ESPN had repeatedly said publicly that it wants Andrews back at the network. In May ESPN president John Skipper told SI.com and two other reporters at the network's upfront presentation said that ESPN wanted to keep Andrews. ESPN spokespeople had also repeated that mantra when asked about her contract. "We are in discussions with Erin," Skipper told SI.com. "Erin does a great job for us. Our preference would be that she stay."

When Andrews re-signed with ESPN two years ago, her role expanded with the addition of a hosting position during the first hour of an expanded College GameDay program. The 34-year-old joined ESPN in 2004 and has covered Major League Baseball and the College World Series in addition to college basketball and college football.

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