SI.com has learned that Rachel Nichols is returning to ESPN to work as an anchor and reporter. She is expected to anchor her own program, contribute to SportsCenter and other platforms including E:60, and work on issue-oriented journalism. She is expected to start at ESPN in early 2016.
Reached by SI.com on Monday, an ESPN spokesperson declined comment.
Jim Miller of Vanity Fair first reported the news on his Twitter feed.
Nichols was a splashy hire for Jeff Zucker in Jan. 2013 after Zucker was named president of CNN Worldwide in Nov. 2012. During her nearly three years at CNN and Turner Sports, she covered NBA and Major League Baseball for TNT and TBS and major sports events including the Olympics and Super Bowl for CNN. She received plaudits for her tough questioning of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and the boxer Floyd Mayweather while at the global news organization. Her studio show, Unguarded, was canceled in Oct. 2014 as part of larger cuts across CNN.
During her previous stay at ESPN, from 2004 to 2013, Nichols worked as a correspondent for SportsCenter, Sunday NFL Countdown, NBA Countdown and E:60, and also as a sideline reporter for Monday Night Football. She left on good terms with the network and also is repped by an agency (CAA) that has a lot of clients at ESPN. With morale at ESPN at an alltime low following the job cuts of approximately 300 employees, many of them immensely popular with staff, the hire of Nichols is a positive narrative for ESPN president John Skipper. She’s well liked and does quality journalism. It will be interesting to watch her again on ESPN.