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Josh Elliott seemed thrilled when he spoke with reporters about his new job at NBC Sports on Wednesday morning. Just days after his high-profile and messy departure from Good Morning America, the broadcaster was adamant about the move being about his desire to get back to sports and nothing more.
What wasn’t clear is how much he’ll be used by NBC News when his contract’s six-month noncompete clause expires. Multiple suggestions of a role on GMA rival Today — or ultimately replacing co-host Matt Lauer — were skirted by both Elliott and NBC Sports Group chairman Mark Lazarus.
“No news role has been discussed with me. I hope Matt Lauer is here when I step away from this gig 30 years down the road,” said Elliott. “I can tell you that the only discussions I have had, as they relate to news, [are] ways to supply sports content to them.”
Elliott will make his debut in just under a month, as part of NBC Sports’ May 3 coverage of the Kentucky Derby, and after that Lazarus said that his role would be a combination of reporting, interviews and hosting across NBC Sports platforms and events.
As for his very public exit from GMA, Elliott called the coverage “incredibly uncomfortable” and said that he’s been surprised by how much attention his move has gotten. “It was not an acrimonious parting at all,” noted Elliott, who also called ABC’s offer “generous and wonderful.” “I have been amazed at how deeply personal choice became this bit player in this absurdist melodrama. I owe everything to the folks at Disney.… Everything I have I owe to [ABC News president] Ben Sherwood.”
The new gig will, at least for the next six months, mean less airtime for Elliott — something he said did not concern him during negotiations.
“Being on the air every day has never been something that I ever needed,” he said. “If a day goes by that I’m not on television, I don’t look at it as a lesser day — nor do I look as changing from the news world to the sports world as anything other than a change of direction.”
The former ESPN personality emphasized that he was particularly excited about being part of NBC’s next Olympics coverage in 2016.
“I can assure you this decision was a deeply personal decision to return to a world in a role that I never could have dreamed,” he said. “I do want to say that coming here was the best decision for me, but it was a decision that was tough to make.”
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