Correspondent/Feature Reporter for Studio & Event Production
Since joining ESPN in 2002, Tom Rinaldi has become one of ESPN’s most prominent correspondents and storytellers. The list of events he has covered, the range of stories he’s told, and the platforms and programs he serves, crosses the broadest spectrum of sports.
His event assignments include working the sidelines at the College Football Playoff National Semi-final and Championship games, and the Rose Bowl. In golf, he has covered all four majors for the better part of two decades, and is the network’s primary interviewer at the Masters. In tennis, he does play-by-play for matches at Wimbledon and the US Open, as well as handling on-court interviews and the trophy ceremony at the Open. He also works the sidelines during NBA regular and post-season games for the network.
In addition, Rinaldi has covered the Super Bowl, the World Series, the Final Four, the Preakness and Belmont Stakes, the Breeders’ Cup, and the Olympics.
In addition to his duties on live events, Rinaldi is known for his feature stories, which run on a variety of ESPN’s shows including College GameDay, E:60, SC Featured, Outside the Lines, and SportsCenter.
Among the honors he has received for his work, Rinaldi has won 16 national Sports Emmy Awards, and seven national Edward R. Murrow Awards. In all, he has been nominated in five separate Emmy categories, including writing, reporting, and feature storytelling, a total of more than 40 times.
Among his stories are “Carry On,” chronicling the relationship between two high school wrestlers from Cleveland and the television producer who made a pivotal difference in their lives. Sports Illustrated’s media critic at the time, Richard Deitsch, called the story “the best feature I’ve ever watched on ESPN.” The piece won the national Edward R. Murrow award for best news documentary.
“A Mountain to Climb,” profiled Pratima Sherpa, from her time living in a shed on a golf course in Nepal to her quest to become to the first female professional golfer in her country’s history. The piece won the Emmy for best short sports documentary in 2018, and sparked a meeting between Pratima and her idol, Tiger Woods.
In 2020, for ESPN Films, he co-directed the documentary “Blackfeet Boxing: Not Invisible,” detailing the plight of murdered and missing indigenous women, and the efforts of the Blackfeet Boxing Club in Montana, in helping girls and young women learn the power of boxing, and self defense.
Rinaldi is also the author of The Red Bandanna: A Life, A Choice, A Legacy, detailing the heroism and tragic death of Boston College athlete Welles Crowther during 9/11. A New York Times bestseller, called “gripping and deeply moving” by The Times Book Review, it has been assigned in high schools and colleges since its publication. The story first aired on ESPN in 2011, and the television feature has run every September since its debut.
Rinaldi has also established himself as a leading interviewer in sports.
In March 2010, he conducted the first interview with Tiger Woods, after the one-car accident in front of Woods’ home four months earlier, and the resulting scandal and implosion of his personal life. Clips or excerpts from the interview were broadcast or published by media outlets around the world.
He conducted the first sit-down interview with former Baylor coach Art Briles, after his dismissal as a result of the program’s sexual assault scandal in 2015, and in 2018, had the first in-depth interview with Urban Meyer, during his suspension from Ohio State for his handling of domestic abuse allegations against one of his assistant coaches.
In addition, he has conducted one-on-one interviews with some of the biggest names across all sports, including Serena Williams, Derek Jeter, Roger Federer, Kevin Durant, Magic Johnson, Jack Nicklaus, Nick Saban, Mike Krzyzewski, Rafael Nadal, and Mariano Rivera.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., Rinaldi is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, and holds a master’s degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.