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Patrick will leave ESPN network after 18 years

July 10, 2007|Larry Stewart | Times Staff Writer

Dan Patrick, who made a name for himself as an anchor on ESPN's "SportsCenter" and has been a mainstay on ESPN Radio since 1999, announced on his midday show Monday that he is leaving the network after 18 years.

"I'm not sure what I'm going to do," Patrick said later from his home in New Haven, Conn. "I want to stay in radio and maybe also do TV in some way, shape or form. This is the first time in my life that I've been a free agent.

"I had an exit strategy, but I don't have an entrance strategy."

Patrick, who will continue doing his national show through Aug. 17, repeated what he had told his listeners, that there was no animosity.

"If there was animosity, I wouldn't be doing radio shows after this one today," he said.

Patrick, 51, said satellite radio intrigues him, but he hasn't given it much thought. His brother Bill Pugh -- Patrick's full name is Dan Patrick Pugh -- is the program director for the Sporting News Radio network, but it's unlikely Patrick would end up there.

"I don't think we are in the loop on this one," said Clancy Woods, the president of the Sporting News Radio network. "I'd love to be able to say we have a deal with Dan, but we don't."

Patrick said he recently was asked to audition for "The Price Is Right," the long-running daytime game show, but declined.

"I was flattered to be asked but just didn't see that as a career move at this time," Patrick said.

Patrick said he felt that he was in a rut at ESPN.

"I felt I was doing my job, but I wasn't satisfied," he said. "I wasn't going anywhere with it, I wasn't getting better. My bosses knew I felt this way the past couple of years."

Patrick has four children, and he said he wants to be able to spend more time with them.

"That plays into this," he said. "All my children have been born while I've been at ESPN."

Saying his 9-year-old daughter, Molly, was concerned about the career change, he told this story:

"She asked me, 'Are you still going to be famous?' I said, 'We'll have to wait and see.' She asked, 'Are you still going to be Dan Patrick?' I said, 'I can guarantee that.' And then she asked, 'Are we still going to get to go to Disney World?' I said, 'Not in the way we have in the past.' "

ESPN is owned by the Walt Disney Co.

Sean Salisbury, one of Patrick's closest friends at ESPN, said, "He's not going away, I'll tell you that. He is the best in the business, period. No argument."

Patrick became an anchor on "SportsCenter" in 1989 and continued in that role in some form until last year.

More recently, he served as host of the NBA studio program on ABC, "NBA Countdown." His radio show, which is carried by KSPN 710 in Los Angeles, will relive memorable moments during that final week.

Norby Williamson, ESPN executive vice president in charge of production, said in a statement:

"Dan has accomplished so much over the past two decades at ESPN and fans and newsmakers have turned to him for his steady and trusted approach. We wish him the very best."

In 2000, Patrick was honored as sportscaster of the year by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Assn. and in 1998 received an Emmy as best sports studio host.

larry.stewart@latimes.com

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