Mike Tirico (born December 13, 1966) is an American sportscaster for ESPN. He is perhaps best known for his role as the lead play-by-play announcer on ESPN Monday Night Football since ESPN got the rights. Tirico called a multitude of programming for ESPN/ABC, including NBA basketball, golf, and tennis.
Tirico left ESPN and joined NBC Sports in the summer of 2016. Tirico's first on-air appearance on an NBC property came during the 2016 Open Championship on Golf Channel, serving as a studio host.
ESPN and ABC (1991–2016)
Tirico joined ESPN in 1991 as a SportsCenter anchor, after 4 years as Sports Director at CBS affiliate WTVH-TV in Syracuse, New York, during his undergraduate years at Syracuse University. Tirico is noted for his versatile nature and the variety of assignments he has handled for SportsCenter. Tirico was the very first host seen on ESPNews. Tirico has handled the play-by-play for ESPN's Thursday Night College Football package (1997–2005), college basketball coverage (1997–2002), NBA coverage (2002 to 2016), and golf coverage for ESPN and ABC (1997–2015). Tirico has also hosted studio coverage of various ESPN and ABC covered events, including a stint on ESPN's Monday Night Countdown (previously known as NFL Prime Monday) from 1993 to 2001 and ABC's NBA studio shows. He also broadcasts NBA games on ESPN/ABC. He anchored the 2009 U.S. Open (tennis) and co-anchored the 2014 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 2016 (his last assignment at ESPN). He does play-by-play for ESPN Monday Night Football.
NBC Sports (2016–present)
On May 9, 2016, after a leak the prior month, it was officially announced that Mike Tirico would join NBC Sports effective July 1, 2016. Tirico signed off for the last time on ESPN on June 30, 2016, during the conclusion of that day's coverage of the UEFA Euro 2016 soccer tournament. Tirico's first on-air appearance on an NBC property came during the 2016 Open Championship on NBC's Golf Channel, calling play-by-play for the first 3 hours of first and second round coverage. Tirico moved to the studio host role in the afternoons on both Thursday and Friday, and he hosted all on the coverage on NBC proper over the weekend.
Tirico served as a studio host and contributor for NBC's broadcasts of the 2016 Summer Olympics from Rio de Janeiro in August. Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated suggested that Tirico could potentially succeed Bob Costas as the primetime host of NBC's Olympics coverage. NBC Sports chairman Mark Lazarus explained following the 2014 Winter Olympics that the division had begun to "think about what life after Bob might be, whether post-Rio, post-Pyeongchang, post-Tokyo, whenever he does not want to do it anymore." Deitsch also felt that Tirico's experience in radio could allow him to contribute to the NBC Sports Radio network.
Sports Business Journal initially reported that Tirico would serve as NBC's lead play-by-play announcer for Thursday Night Football (which was expanding to NBC during the upcoming season), and was likely to be a future successor to Al Michaels. The NFL later stated that its contract with NBC required that the network use its lead play-by-play commentator for all primetime broadcasts. In the meantime, Tirico called 2 preseason games allocated to NBC, and was placed on play-by-play for NBC's first 3 Notre Dame college football games to fill in for Dan Hicks, due to Hicks' conflicts with his lead play-by-play role on NBC's golf coverage, including the 2016 Ryder Cup. Tirico would join Hicks to host Sunday coverage of the event.
Tirico was assigned to 2 late-season games in the Thursday Night Football package produced for NFL Network, held on a Saturday and Christmas Sunday respectively, with Doug Flutie and Tony Dungy. On May 31, 2017, it was announced that he permanently replace Al Michaels as play-by-play for all of NBC's Thursday Night Football games due to the NFL having changed its stance on its previous requirement.
On February 9, 2017, Bob Costas announced that he will be retiring as the primetime host of NBC's coverage of the Olympics, and that Tirico replaces him beginning at the 2018 Winter Olympics. Tirico will also replace Costas as studio host for NBC's NFL coverage and Football Night in America.
In 2017, he took over the role of Tom Hammond in Triple Crown coverage and succeeded Dan Hicks permanently as the lead play-by-play announcer for Notre Dame broadcasts, as Hicks will shift focus to the PGA Tour and downhill skiing ahead of the 2018 Olympics.
Tirico has been paired in the college football booth with Tim Brant, Terry Bowden, Mike Gottfried, Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso, and David Norrie. His partners in NBA coverage have included Tom Tolbert. Hubie Brown, and Greg Anthony. His color commentators for golf coverage were Curtis Strange, Ian Baker-Finch, Nick Faldo, and Paul Azinger. He has worked with Len Elmore on college basketball coverage. Tirico worked with Jon Gruden on NFL Monday Night Football and also the Outback Bowl (2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014) and Orange Bowl (2011 and 2012).
On April 21 and 22, 2007, he appeared as a guest host, filling in for Michael Wilbon, alongside Tony Kornheiser on ESPN's Pardon the Interruption.
Tirico hosted his first show from WAER radio in Syracuse, the station where he started his sports broadcasting career, on the campus of Syracuse University. Fellow Orange alum Bob Costas was his first guest. On September 20, 2007, Tirico began hosting the short-lived Mike Tirico Show on ESPN Radio from 1:00 to 3:00 pm weekdays (Eastern time). The show filled the empty seat left by Dan Patrick. During the spring of 2008, the title of The Mike Tirico Show, which featured Scott Van Pelt as a co-host, was changed to Tirico and Van Pelt. On May 19, 2009, Tirico announced he would be leaving the show to focus more on his television play-by-play duties, and the name of the show became The Scott Van Pelt Show.
Sexual harassment controversy
Tirico's period at ESPN was not without controversy. Two books about the network, ESPN: The Uncensored History (2000) by former New York Times sportswriter Michael Freeman and 2011's These Guys Have All the Fun (by Washington Post writers James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales), recount allegations of sexual harassment. Tirico, for example, was suspended by the network for three months in 1992 for multiple incidents involving attempted groping, sexual solicitation, and stalking of female co-workers.
Tirico grew up in Queens, New York and graduated from Bayside High School and Syracuse University. Tirico and his wife Debbie have two children. The Tiricos have lived in Ann Arbor, Michigan since 1999.
Despite his dark skin and ethnic features, Tirico has publicly stated that he is not Black nor African American. He reiterated that he’s seen pictures of his father and his immediate family, all of whom are White. “The only contact I had growing up was with my mom’s side of the family. And they are all as white as the refrigerator I’m standing in front of right now.” Regarding his true father, Tirico has stated, "Yeah. I’d like to find out the truth at some point, so I can answer questions for my kids" regarding his heritage and biological parents.