Cari Champion, rising ESPN star, abruptly leaves network

Cari Champion had made her way up the ESPN ranks to “SportsCenter” host on the weekday noon show, but that ended Thursday evening when she announced she was leaving the network.

Champion joined ESPN from the Tennis Channel in 2012 and started as the host of “First Take,” moderating hot take debates between Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless.

“After consulting with mentors, family and friends, I have come to the decision that it’s time to leave ESPN,” Champion wrote on Twitter. “Over the past 7 years, I’ve grown from hosting First Take to having my own show on SportsCenter, and experiencing so much more in between.”

Champion, 41, signed a multi-year extension in 2016 and was also hosting “Sports Nation.” it is unclear where her next media stop will be.

“With Cari Champion’s pending departure, the noon ET SportsCenter will no longer be a bicoastal show and instead will originate completely from Bristol, Conn., with Elle Duncan and Matt Barrie helming the newly-expanded 90-minute Monday-Thursday episodes,” ESPN said in a release.

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