Kevin Merida Named Top Editor for ESPN's 'The Undefeated'

Kevin Merida - H 2015
Julia Ewan/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Merida's appointment is the latest development for the standalone site after Jason Whitlock, who joined ESPN in part to launch the Grantland-like portal that would examine sports and pop culture through the lens of race, was removed as top editor and returned to Fox Sports.

Kevin Merida has been named editor-in-chief of ESPN's The Undefeated, a website that will feature a multitude of reporting and commentary on race and culture intertwined with sports, the network announced Monday.

Merida was previously managing editor at The Washington Post — the first African American to hold that position at the publicationwhere he helped grow one of the largest digital audiences in the business, according to ESPN. The Post won three Pulitzer Prizes during Merida's time with the publication. 

"Kevin is a remarkably accomplished journalist, editor and leader whom we have long admired and desired to join The Undefeated," said Marie Donoghue, ESPN executive vp global strategy and original content, according to ESPN. "Today’s announcement represents a key step in the evolution of the site and ESPN’s commitment to this ambitious project."

Merida's hire is the latest development for The Undefeated, with the site's rocky launch and behind-the-scenes drama extensively chronicled by Deadspin, which popularized the moniker "black Grantland."

He's replaces Jason Whitlock as top editor for the site. Whitlock, an outspoken and often controversial columnist and on-air personality, moved to ESPN in 2013 in part to launch the stand-alone site, with ESPN viewing the site as a Grantland-like portal that would examine sports and pop culture through the lens of race.

In June, Whitlock was dropped by ESPN as the top editor of The Undefeated after Deadspin published and criticized his "playbook" on how he planned to run the stand-alone sports site. 

At the time, ESPN said Whitlock would remain with the network as a contributor "to multiple ESPN entities and programs." He subsequently returned to his former employer Fox Sports.

Merida, who was the editor of The Post's award-wining series Being a Black Man, said he is excited to join ESPN and establish The Undefeated as the destination for the "most vibrant, provocative, thoughtful work on sports, race and culture in the country."

"It will become a home for innovative storytelling, new voices and the exploration of athletes and ideas by writers you’ll want to read." Merida added. 

Leon Carter had been the interim editor-in-chief of The Undefeated since June, according to ESPN.