Longtime ESPN host and anchor John Saunders has died at age 61, the network announced Wednesday.
Saunders was one of ESPN’s most visible and versatile commentators and was a founding member of the board of directors for The V Foundation for Cancer Research.
Saunders, with ESPN for nearly 30 years, hosted studio and play-by-play programming. He covered college football, basketball and the NHL, in addition to anchoring “SportsCenter” and hosting “The Sports Reporters.”
“John was an extraordinary talent and his friendly, informative style has been a warm welcome to sports fans for decades,” John Skipper, president of ESPN and co-chairman of Disney Media Networks, said in a statement. “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, a native of Canada, joined ESPN in December 1986 to anchor “SportsCenter.” He came to ESPN from WMAR-TV in Baltimore.
Saunders became a voice for ESPN on college basketball, the WNBA and hosted ESPN’s coverage of the Stanley Cup playoffs from 1993-2004. He also worked on coverage of the World Series and Major League Baseball All-Star game.
Saunders is survived by wife Wanda and daughters Aleah and Jenna.