ESPN’s holding period for the 6 p.m. edition of “SportsCenter” is over.
ESPN will name Sage Steele and Kevin Negandhi the new co-hosts of the show, sources told The Post’s Andrew Marchand, and change the name back to the 6 p.m. “SportsCenter” from the “SC6” brand previously created for Jemele Hill and Michael Smith. The “SC6” experiment ended a year after its inception with Smith leaving the show in March, over a month after his partner.
Steele and Negandhi’s first show together will be Monday.
While Steele continued her 7 a.m. “SportsCenter:AM” duties during the week, Negandhi was part of a rotating group of hosts ESPN had been using in the 6 p.m. time slot until it was ready to name permanent replacements. Matt Barrie, Michael Eaves, Elle Duncan, John Buccigross, Linda Cohn and Jay Harris, among others, filled out the interim rotation beginning on March 12.
ESPN appeared willing to prolong the multiple host strategy with the ratings for the 6 p.m. show showing a 16 percent uptick this April over last. Now, the network turns it over to Steele and Negandhi, believing the veteran anchors can continue their recent run of success.
The forthcoming announcement officially closes the door on the “SC6” era, which ended under a cloud of controversy after Smith blamed the show’s directors for forcing them into roles he and Hill did not sign up for. Instead of having the freedom of showcasing their personalities on air, Smith said the two of them felt “muted,” which frustrated them enough to leave the show.
“Immediately we started pushing the panic button,” Smith said on James Andrew Miller’s “Origins” podcast Feb. 8. “Instead of saying no, this is the vision for this show, this is what we’re doing. This show is about Michael and Jemele and their opinions and their chemistry, and they’re going to do ‘SportsCenter’ their way. Instead of sticking to that vision, we immediately tried to merge two things. … And that frustrated the s–t out of us.”
Hill has since moved on to work primarily as a senior columnist for ESPN’s The Undefeated, while Smith’s current role remains up in the air.
ESPN has experience on its side in the 45-year-old Steele and 43-year-old Negandhi, who have been at the Worldwide Leader since 2007 and 2006, respectively. The two have also worked together recently on “SportsCenter:AM.”
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