Coordinating director Chip Dean joined ESPN in 1979, just two months after the network’s September launch. One of the industry’s most accomplished directors, Dean directed ESPN’s NFL telecasts for 18 years before stepping away in 2019 to focus on mentoring the company’s team of directors.
If there was a Mount Rushmore of ESPN event directors, Dean would surely be on it. His production credits over more than three decades include the NFL and NFL Draft; college football on ESPN and ABC; National Championship games; Big Monday and legendary BIG EAST basketball tournaments – including the historic six-overtime UConn vs. Syracuse game in 2009; the College World Series; X Games; ESPYS; the Indy 500 pre-race show; and more.
When Dean was promoted to coordinating director in 2011, he began developing ESPN’s Bristol-based directors. After directing his final game in 2019, Dean expanded his focus, now mentoring and collaborating with the company’s entire team of directors.
In this role, Dean works with event managers to create a path for aspiring directors and develops succession plans across ESPN’s portfolio of sports properties, while continuing to integrate innovation and new technology.
Dean directed ESPN’s NFL games from 2001-18 – first on Sunday Night Football (2001-05) and then on Monday Night Football (2006-18). Dean and producer Jay Rothman worked together on football for 28 seasons – including 13 years on MNF, comprising one of the most innovative and longest-running production duos in sports history.
Dean and Rothman’s work resulted in ESPN’s Sunday Night Football game coverage being recognized in 2004 with sports television’s highest honor, the Emmy in the Live Series category. Under their direction, ESPN’s Monday Night Football was consistently nominated for a Sports Emmy in this category. Under their direction, MNF also became the most-watched series in cable television history.
Aside from his NFL responsibilities, Dean served as the lead director for ABC Sports’ college football telecasts from 1997 to 2000, featuring two Rose Bowls, two Orange Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl and a pair of National Championship games. Dean was also the director of ESPN’s prime-time college football telecasts for 10 years (1987-1996) and the network’s lead college basketball director from 1985 to 2000, with highlights including the ACC conference tournament and the Big East conference tournament, an event Dean has directed since ESPN acquired it in 1995.
Dean’s other high-profile directorial assignments included ESPN’s College World Series coverage (1990-1993), 10 years of the ESPYS, 16 years of the NCAA Women’s Final Four, the X Games, Wednesday Night Baseball, men’s college basketball and more. He also served as coordinating director for ESPN’s coverage of the NFL Draft.
Dean won three CableACE Awards (Award for Cable Excellence) in the Directing Live Sports Events category: in 1990 for his work on college football, in 1991 for the College World Series and for his work on college basketball. Dean directed the CableACE-winning (Sports Events Special) Duke/North Carolina basketball game in 1993. He received four Sports Emmy Awards: Live Series for Sunday Night Football in 2004, Technical Team Remote for the 1997 and 1996 X Games and in the graphics category for his contributions to ESPN’s 1988 NCAA basketball open.
Dean also directed the network’s 1988 America’s Cup coverage, auto racing, tennis, figure skating, swimming & diving and select events at the 1985-87 U.S. Olympic Festivals.
A native of Ridgefield, Conn., Dean joined ESPN as a director for SportsCenter in November 1979. He assumed a similar position in the network’s remote production department in September 1983. When the company celebrated its 30th anniversary in September 2009, he was one of 43 original employees still working with the company who were acknowledged in a special recognition ceremony.
From 1977 to 1979, Dean was a production manager for Channel 10 in Danbury, Conn. Dean attended Arizona State University on a football scholarship and played free safety for the Sun Devils under legendary coach Frank Kush. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in broadcasting from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in 1977. He received one of his alma mater’s top honors in 2009 when he was named to the Cronkite Alumni Hall of Fame.
Dean and his wife have two daughters and a son.
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