Alumni News

Alumna Samantha Ponder named host of ESPN’s ‘Sunday NFL Countdown’

March 23, 2017 : Liberty University News Service

(ESPN photo)One of the most coveted positions in sports broadcasting was awarded Thursday to Liberty University alumna Samantha Ponder (’09) when she was announced as the new host of ESPN’s long-running Sunday morning NFL pregame show, “Sunday NFL Countdown.” She replaces sports broadcasting legend Chris Berman, who is assuming a new role for ESPN after almost four decades with the company. Ponder was one of three commentators selected to fill his extensive hosting duties.

Before the announcement, Ponder, a Phoenix, Ariz., native, was among the network’s top college football reporters. She has been a contributor to “College GameDay” since 2012. Ponder also reported for ABC Saturday Night Football last year. She has been with ESPN since 2011 after a stint with FOX Sports Net.

As part of her new role she will contribute NFL features and interviews to the network. She is only the third host of “Sunday NFL Countdown” in its 32-year history. In the network’s press release, ESPN’s Bill Hofheimer described Ponder as “a versatile talent with an engaging conversational style.”

Ponder said that she could not be more grateful for the opportunity.

“There is no such thing as replacing Chris Berman, but the chance to build on his incredible legacy while simultaneously taking new risks to serve NFL fans is the opportunity of a lifetime.”

At Liberty, Ponder was a Liberty Flames Sports Network sideline reporter for all football, men’s basketball, and women’s basketball games.