Neghandi embracing morning SportsCenter

Courtesy of the Philadelphia Inquirer

Kevin NeghandiThe Good Morning America set has to be in violation of New York’s maximum-occupancy laws. The studio couch is packed tight with so many bodies these days, you wonder if the producers need the jaws of life to pry the hosts apart after the show.

The fire marshal might be worried about that, but it’s probably fine with ESPN anchor Kevin Negandhi. When Josh Elliott left SportsCenter and wedged himself onto the GMA set, it created an opportunity for Negandhi. The 36-year-old Phoenixville native and Temple alumnus was chosen as Elliott’s replacement for the coveted morning SportsCenter anchor gig.

Before arriving in Bristol, Conn., Neghandi had graduated from being the Temple News sports editor to freelancer for USA Today and local TV work in outposts such as Kirksville, Mo., and Sarasota, Fla. At ESPN he has hosted everything from ESPN News to College Football Live to Outside the Lines. And now, each morning, he sits beside Hannah Storm and serves a healthy heaping of sports to millions of Americans looking for some scores to complement their coffee.

Negandhi talked to Page 2 about his dream job, growing up in this area, and why it’s OK to cry if you’re a Philadelphia sports fan.

Question: You’re the first Indian American to serve on a national sports network. What does that mean to you and your family?

Answer: Indians are considered hard workers. Doctor. Engineer. Or motel or convenience store owner. Those stereotypes – I take a lot of pride in breaking them down. When I first pitched my career choice to my family, for them it was, “OK, this is just a phase. He’ll be a businessman or an attorney, and that’s how things will be.” There’s nothing wrong with that.

[In] Indian culture, kids aspire to big things. Being on a national network is something foreign to the community. Mothers will say to my mom, “Your son has inspired my son to be in sports.” That, to me, is so big. You’re breaking down walls. I’m the first Indian sportscaster on ESPN. That’s pretty cool.

Q: Do you remember where you were and what it felt like when you got the job offer from ESPN?

A: I was at a high school football practice. It was one of those moments – you can’t scream in the middle of practice, even though you want to. Since I was 14, I wanted to do SportsCenter. It was like, for 20 years you prepare to climb Everest and then you finally do. I partied my butt off that weekend.

Read more at the Philadelphia Inquirer where this story was originally published.