Pam Oliver's days with Fox on the NFL sidelines may be numbered, but the network says she hasn't been sacked.
According to a report Monday in Sports Illustrated, Oliver is being bumped back to the second string for the 2014-2015 season and then she won't be on the sidelines at all after that.
The same report says Erin Andrews is slated to take her place on Fox's lead crew, which also includes Joe Buck and Troy Aikman in the broadcasting booth.
When Oliver first met with Fox Sports president Eric Shanks and executive vice president of production John Entz after the 2013 football season ended, they informed her she was off game day broadcasting duty altogether, the report says. After further discussion, however, they allowed Oliver one final season — her 20th — on the sidelines.
“To go from the lead crew to no crew was a little shocking,” Oliver told SI. “I said I wanted to do a 20th year [on the sidelines]. I expressed to them that I was not done and had something to offer. Again, I think it was predetermined coming in. Not at that meeting, but two years ago it was determined that no matter what I did or did not do, a change would be made for this year.”
Why are they moving the 53-year-old reporter?
According to SI, one “veteran reporter” thinks it's because of Oliver's age and outward appearance. ”She's not blonde, nor is she in the demographic,” said the anonymous reporter. “I'm not naïve and I understand it's a business, but I think that Fox did not treat her as befits a woman who has been the female face of their sports operation for the past 19 years.”
Fox is telling a different story.
A statement given to TheWrap Monday was headlined “Pam Oliver elevated to senior correspondent.” In it, the network announced Oliver would join Kevin Burkhardt and John Lynch next season as part of a new broadcasting team, but absent was any mention of Oliver's disappointment.
“FOX Sports has grown tremendously over the last few years, and we've secured and retained the rights to many of the country's most popular sports,” said Shanks.
“After years of admiring Pam's consistently incredible work on the NFL, we realized that there was so much more she could do for us, on a variety of sports, all year long. Her intelligence and skills as a reporter and interviewer are unparalleled, and we're excited to have her take a much larger role here.”
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