Hannah Storm, for the second time in as many years, has been put in the awful position of having to report on a colleague's death live on the air. On January 4, 2015, she reported on the tragic passing of former SportsCenter anchor Stuart Scott. Today, she has to do the same on the shocking death of John Saunders.
Hannah Storm's tearful announcement, which came in live from Rio on SportsCenter, is currently making its way around the internet.
Saunders joined ESPN in 1986, and was a versatile figure for the network for 30 years. ESPN Media Zone outlined his many roles and accomplishments while at the Worldwide Leader.
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 ofSportsCenter during the football season.
At ESPN, Saunders also called play-by-play for college basketball since 1990, WNBA from 1999-2001 and NBDL games in 2001. He hosted the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs (1993-2004), Baseball Tonight (1990-93), SportsCenter’s coverage of the Final Four (1991-93), the World Series (1990-92) and Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game (1990-92). He also hosted Rendez-Vous ’87, the two-game series between the NHL All-Stars and the Soviets, and occasionally hosted ESPN’s NHL telecasts in 1987-88.
Saunders’ work on ABC started in 1990, hosting NCAA basketball telecasts beginning that first year, college football telecasts since 1992 and NHL action (1993, 1999-2004). He served as a contributor to Wide World of Sports, beginning in 1990, and also provided play-by-play of NCAA basketball games (since 1992).
Saunders was a good athlete in his own right. The Montreal native was a defenseman for the Western Michigan hockey program in the 1970s, after coming up as a top junior league player in Canada.
Saunders was 61 years old. The cause of death is unknown at this time.