David Lloyd ’83 is among the longest-tenured anchors for ESPN

These days, young people who aspire to have a sports broadcasting career dream of working for ESPN, the “worldwide leader in sports.” David Lloyd ’83 might have been among those dreamers if he had grown up watching ESPN, but when he stepped on the Colgate campus in fall 1979, ESPN was just going on the air for the first time. 

Lloyd, who eventually did find his inspiration and is now among the longest- tenured anchors for ESPN, says his career is “everything I could have ever hoped for.” 

After majoring in international relations and graduating from Colgate, Lloyd didn’t know what he wanted to do for a career. He knew he liked sports; he enjoyed watching games with his Beta Theta Pi fraternity brothers. His favorite commentators were NBC’s Bob Costas (“well spoken with a piercing intellect”) and NFL play-by-play commentator Pat Summerall (“who could sum up a moment in four words”).

After bouncing between jobs he did not like, Lloyd got a break. He had a friend who connected him with WMAZ-TV in Macon, Ga., where Lloyd started as an unpaid intern. “It worked for me. I could write and talk about sports,” he recalls. Nearly a year later, Lloyd landed a paid job at WCIV in Charleston, S.C. After that he went to California to work for stations in Sacramento and San Diego. In TV, anchors advance by moving from a big market to a bigger market. By 1997 there was no bigger market in TV sports than ESPN. “It is the 800-pound gorilla everyone wants to work for,” he says. Lloyd got an audition at the Bristol, Conn., headquarters, and the rest is history. As an on-air personality, it helps to have a vast knowledge and love of sports as well as a sense of humor, like how he describes how long he’s been at ESPN in his Twitter bio. 

Lloyd anchors the weekday 7 a.m. SportsCenter, ESPN’s flagship news and highlights show. Producers come in at 1:30 a.m. and put together the bones of the show. Lloyd and co-anchor Ryan Smith arrive by 3:30 a.m. and add their own lively language and interesting stats to run alongside clips of big plays and news stories. If there’s an error during the first show, they correct it and add a new ending for the 8 a.m. show. Finished by 9 a.m., the father of three has the rest of the day to work out, walk his dogs, or take a nap. But there’s no time to watch a late game. “It’s painful to not get the viewing experience, but I can’t stay up,” he says. 

He fondly recalls covering the 1995 NFC Championship game between the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park in San Francisco when he was working in Sacramento. That was the third of four-straight years those teams — led by Dallas QB Troy Aikman and 49ers QB Steve Young — faced off to go to the Super Bowl. Even though Lloyd no longer travels to cover events, he continues to have brushes with fame, like seeing Queen Latifah in the ESPN cafeteria line. If he had to count down his top four highlights of meeting famous people, it would be Muhammad Ali, Willie Nelson, Michael Jordan, and No. 1 would be Dallas coach Tom Landry, who led the Cowboys to two Super Bowl victories. Lloyd thought Landry always looked unapproachable in his signature fedora and suit, but they met after Landry had been fired. “I went up and asked him to do an interview. He couldn’t have been kinder and warmer,” Lloyd recalls. “I got to sit with an icon and talk football for 15 minutes.” 

Having witnessed the expansion of ESPN from one station to many and then streaming live on an app, Lloyd loves his job. What’s his favorite event? All of them. “The inventory is inexhaustible in sports,” he says. “Every day is different. You never know who is going to go off for 50 points or get tossed by a ref.”