It was supposed to be a normal Saturday afternoon of college basketball analysis for ESPN’s Andy Katz.
He and anchor Cindy Brunson were slated to work two ESPN2 studio halftime shows and two “fill” shows if the games were short. Watch some games, talk some hoops – and be home in plenty of time to watch ESPN’s Heisman Trophy presentation.
But, as is often the case at ESPN, events of the day have a way of changing the best laid plans of reporters, anchors and producers.
Below, Katz discusses how quickly things changed when the Xavier/Cincinnati brawl happened just after 2:30 p.m. ET.
FR: Were you watching Xavier/Cincinnati game when the brawl broke out? What were your immediate thoughts?
AK: We were keeping an eye on all the games. When I saw the melee, I was stunned. Fights occur. But this never was controlled. There was no sign of any game management presence from the Cintas Center and no police officers. The only people trying to stop it were the coaches and officials. You could tell immediately that this was going to have serious ramifications.
FR: As the story began developing rapidly, how did you switch from studio analyst to reporter?
AK: I was emailing the SID from Xavier to get post-game comments. He got me [Xavier head coach] Chris Mack and [senior guard] Tu Holloway on the phone — before Holloway’s comments at the news conference. I also was texting and trying to reach [Cincinnati head coach] Mick Cronin. I was also following a twitter account that was tracking the news conference. Then through text messages and phone calls I was able to get the A-10 commissioner and Big East associate commissioner on the phone.
We were able to do more news cut-ins as well. This was also going on when we were tracking that Jared Sullinger wasn’t going to play for Ohio State against Kansas. CBSsports.com first reported the news and then we were able to get from Ohio State that he didn’t participate in the shootaround. So we did a cut-in telling viewers that he wasn’t going to play against Kansas. It turned into quite a “newsy” day in studio.
FR: All of it probably made for a long day.
AK: The story didn’t end there as after leaving ESPN, I had to track the situation for ESPN.com and ended up talking to Cronin late at night and filing a story overnight. That was after filing a story earlier in the evening before I left ESPN on the entire affair and the next steps that would go forward in the suspension process.
For more of Andy’s reporting on the story, please visit ESPN’s college basketball page.