John Saunders, one of the most important voices in all of college football, has passed away at the age of 61, ESPN announced.
Saunders began working at ESPN in 1986, and in recent years hosted ABC’s studio coverage of college football. He also hosted the studio coverage from the College Football Playoff National Championship and presented the winners with the post-game trophy.
“John was an extraordinary talent and his friendly, informative style has been a warm welcome to sports fans for decades,” ESPN President John Skipper said in a press release. “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.”
Sickened and saddened to hear of loss of our colleague and friend, John Saunders. What a nice man. What a great man. pic.twitter.com/giwC23nSdM
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 10, 2016
Very sad news about John Saunders. He was so talented, yet was just a regular guy at heart. Humble, kind, smart. Will miss him greatly.
— Bill Hancock (@BHancockCFP) August 10, 2016
John taught me how to play golf, and our wives Wanda & Terri became great friends. Held baby showers for one another.Most gracious man ever!
— Tim Brando (@TimBrando) August 10, 2016
The legendary broadcaster also worked heavily with basketball. He’s done play-by-play since 1990 and anchored some coverage from the SEC Basketball Tournament.
— Kevin Van Valkenburg (@KVanValkenburg) August 10, 2016
He is also well known for hosting The Sports Reporters, a roundtable discussion of writers that would air on Sunday mornings. He had served in that role since 2001.
Saunders is survived by his wife, Wanda, and two daughters, Aleah and Jenna.