Legendary swimmer Summer Sanders lives in Park City with her family now, so she figures she will have a pretty good handle on everything going on with the Utah Utes when she starts her broadcasting work with the new Pac-12 Networks.
Sanders joined former football players Ronnie Lott and Rick Neuheisel as the first broadcasters hired for the new networks, scheduled to debut in August. Sanders will have a “multipurpose role” as a host and expert analyst for a variety of shows, the league said, while Lott and Neuheisel will serve as football analysts.
“This is a very, very exciting day for us,” said Gary Stevenson, the CEO of the league's media enterprises. “We've been spending a lot of time thinking about buildings and facilities and those things, and now we're talking about the fun stuff — who's going to be on the air, representing the Pac-12.”
While all three Pac-12 alums swooned over their connections to and love of the league, Sanders also said she has grown pretty familiar with the Utes, having attended football games at Rice-Eccles Stadium — a university camera crew was at her home just this morning, by the way — as well as the recent Pac-12 gymnastics championships at the Huntsman Center.
“My daughter is big into gymnastics,” she said.
All three promised to bring the stories of the league to life for viewers, with former UCLA and Washington coach Rick Neuheisel cracking jokes on a conference call that he also would be “sweeping up” after a day's work. Fired by the Bruins after last season, Neuheisel did not preclude a return to coaching, but said he was committed to his new broadcasting job.
“I'm thrilled to be a part of it,” he said.
League officials had no news on new distribution agreements — their network already is assured of being on the basic tier of cable packages offered by Comcast, Time Warner, Cox and Bright House within the league's footprint — but said they might have a fall schedule in place next month.
Executive vice president and general manager Lydia Murphy-Stephans said the network will not initially include a studio show, but will be heavy on live events. The network expects to show 350 live events on its main network in its first year, with another 50 events on each of the six regional networks that focus on the league's six markets.
Sanders, Lott and Neuheisel all are alums of Pac-12 schools.
Sanders won a national swimming championship at Stanford before winning two gold medals, a silver and a bronze at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Lott won two Rose Bowls and a national football title at USC, before a Hall of Fame career in the NFL, while Neuheisel was a quarterback at UCLA before embarking on his coaching career.
All three have worked in broadcasting before, Sanders most prominently.
And though she lives now in Utah — she's married to former Olympic skier Erik Schlopy — she said one of the attractions of her new job is getting to return frequently to the Bay Area, where she grew up. Returning there “brings me straight back to college,” she said, “and puts a smile on my face.”