John Saunders, one of ESPN’s most visible commentators has died at age 61. The cause of death was not immediately known.
Saunders was also a founding member f the board of directors for The V Foundation for Cancer Research.
ESPN President John Skipper said: “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, who hosted and handled play-by-play for a variety of sports, joined ESPN in 1986 and was one of the company’s most tenured commentators.
Saunders was host of ABC’s Saturday studio coverage of college football and select editions of ESPN’s College Football Live and ESPN’s college basketball studio coverage. He hosted The Sports Reporters, the Sunday morning roundtable of sports journalists, since December 2001. In recent years, he also co-hosted NFL highlight segments on Sunday night editions of SportsCenter during the football season.
As part of his role in ESPN’s college football, Saunders anchored studio coverage from the College Football Playoff National Championship and hosted the postgame trophy presentation.
A former colleague and close friend of the late Jim Valvano, Saunders was a founding member and served on the board of directors for The V Foundation for Cancer Research, and was actively involved in many of the organization’s fundraising events and initiatives.
I cannot exaggerate how good a guy John Saunders was, nor how talented. This is a huge personal loss for us and a blow to ESPN's viewers.
— Bob Ryan (@GlobeBobRyan) August 10, 2016
Let us pray for Saunders’ family during this difficult time. RIP.