Daily Reports




Swishes come true: ESPN’s Elle Duncan talks UWG, sports journalism

ESPN SportsCenter anchor Elle Duncan was always meant for the limelight, and the University of West Georgia helped her determine where she’d shine.

“When discussing the UWG part of my journey, what stands out the most is how it helped me identify my passion, which I think is the most important aspect of higher education,” said Duncan, an Atlanta native. “You enroll with some idea of what you want to do, and college helps you figure out what that looks like and how you get there.”

With aspirations of being an actress, Duncan initially majored in theatre. Discussions with faculty and upperclassmen revealed a different path. Had she considered mass communications – specifically broadcasting?

“It wasn’t like they were trying to dissuade me from their program,” she recalled. “They saw what I wanted to do with my career and helped me pivot to the mass communications route, which built my love of broadcasting. I will always be incredibly grateful to UWG for showing me what I actually wanted to do and giving me the opportunity to learn about it and grow so I could hit the ground running and get a fantastic job after graduation.”

Through her classes, Duncan became immersed in journalistic principles. She learned industry terminology, the importance of presenting information effectively and creatively to various audiences, and how to apply critical thinking skills in conducting research.

“I always had this idea of what media looked like, but UWG was great at presenting it structurally and logically instead of idealistically,” she explained. “A big part is storytelling. At their base, journalism, theatre, acting, fiction, nonfiction – they all come from the same place, which is being able to tell great stories while educating people.”

Duncan recently helped her alma mater announce the next chapter of its story when she narrated the We Are One video, announcing UWG’s elevation to Division I athletics.

“Journalism is rooted in principles, which I learned right away when I started in the mass communications program. Today, I still lean on many of those lessons I learned at UWG.”

Part of UWG’s allure is its commitment to launching students’ careers before graduation, and Duncan was no exception. At 19, her career began as an intern for former Atlanta syndicated sports talk radio show 790 the Zone. In 2005, she began a stint on hip-hop radio station V103, during which she started doing side gigs as the Atlanta Hawks sideline reporter. On weekends, she’d work for Comcast Sports South covering college football, and that eventually led her to Atlanta’s NBC affiliate, 11Alive. Every job she’d worked for nearly a decade had been local.

Then she nailed an audition in Boston, working for the regional network home of the Celtics and Red Sox.

“Boston was very scary,” Duncan laughed. “I was the girl who chose UWG because it was close to home. I’d never moved away, but it ended up being great. It was like a trial by fire. You’ve got to know your stuff because they are really, really into sports.”

Duncan joined ESPN as an anchor in 2016, and she currently hosts SportsCenter alongside Kevin Negandhi. Aside from her duties there, she hosts a biweekly YouTube program, “The Elle Duncan Show,” where she delves into the latest sports and cultural highlights of the week. She also acts as the women’s college basketball host for the network’s College GameDay and is among a rotating group of panelists on the afternoon program Around the Horn.

Growing up as an avid sports fan and athlete, Duncan said she’s living her dream.

“Sports bring people joy, and the stakes are incredibly low,” she observed. “Being a SportsCenter anchor, we don’t cover just one sport, we cover them all. I get to meet interesting people, and I love serving as an inspiration for others.”

Duncan closed by offering advice to the next generation of Wolves.

“Enjoy this time, and take some of the pressure off yourself,” she concluded. “Take a deep breath and remember that a delay is not a denial. Try to be strategic but also open to life and new opportunities that you never imagined.”


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