ESPN’s Negandhi reflects on Philly roots, role as SportsCenter anchor
Current ESPN personality and Temple University alum Kevin Negandhi grew up not only a Philadelphia sports fan, but with a deep love for sport and the stories therein. His dedication to storytelling and to crunching the numbers paired with his warm and humorous disposition made him a perfect fit for the Worldwide Leader in Sports. Here’s a look at some of his memories, points of view and thoughts on his beloved alma mater.
What athletes did you grow up rooting for in Phoenixville, Pa.?
On the field the three guys always stood out for me. Mike Schmidt, who had this little waggle at the plate. I think every kid growing up in the mid 80s who wanted to be a home run hitter had that little butt shake when playing whiffle ball. [Julius Erving], no doubt about it, was the basketball player growing up. And, the Eagles were unique. I love every player that wore the kelly green. It’s funny working with Herm [Edwards], [Ron Jaworski], Brian Dawkins. Those are the guys who I identify my love of sports with.
You have been covering sports your entire adult life. What set you on that track?
I played [sports] all year round but I also knew I loved commentating on games. Downstairs in my basement I had a mini-basketball hoop where I set up tournaments, or I set up whiffle ball games, and I kept all the stats on home run leaders, who was the strikeout leader. I loved that stuff. Maybe it was my background with my dad being an accountant but I loved numbers. But I identified more with the storytelling, with a situation where you had to make the perfect call, a game-winning home run or buzzer beater.
Do you find it more difficult to report stories on hometown teams?
I have fun with it. I think all of us do. I think many anchors, like Linda Cohn is a die hard Giants and Rangers fan. [Stuart Scott] with his ties to UNC. We all have ties. That’s why we got in this business. For me, I look at it that the people that love their teams and are passionate about their teams, that’s critical. They know what’s going on and are fully involved. I think that benefits the audience, that I know more about what’s going on when a story breaks in the city of Philadelphia. It’s never gotten in the way of anything I’ve done.
Have you had any star struck moments as an anchor in Bristol?
There are moments that are pretty awesome … Bo Jackson. I had 11 posters of him as a teenager. I thought the world of Bo and being able to do a 10-minute segment with Bo. … It’s not star stuck, but it is just realizing what we are doing is very cool.
What do you make of Temple football’s recent struggles?
I don’t care about their record right now. The one thing I saw from this team was they played their butt off, especially at the end. The Central Florida game was a heartbreaker. I believe the future is bright with this program, because of the effort these kids put in and because of Matt Rhule. People forget, three coaches in four years? And switching conferences twice? That’s tough for anybody.
And Temple basketball is down after several consecutive NCAA tournament berths.
I love [Fran Dumphy]. And I am not shy about it. I think people need to become a little realistic about the turnover of a program. They have been losing the recruiting war a little bit but I don’t think one player changes everything. And, last year the team was a couple bad calls, and if [Khalif Wyatt] had any help, from knocking off Indiana and heading to the Sweet 16.
Was eliminating seven athletic programs the right move for Temple?
My heart goes out to those kids who had their programs cut. But this is not a unique thing to Temple, it’s just the way college athletics is set up, you have to survive. If Temple wants to be a big time [program] this is what happens.