College Football and Tennis Host & Commentator
Chris Fowler, who has progressed at ESPN over a quarter century to be one of the most respected hosts and play-by-play commentators in television, appears on many of ESPN’s marquee properties, primarily in college football and Grand Slam tennis. In 2014, he became the play-by-play for the ABC Saturday Night Football booth alongside analyst Kirk Herbstreit, and most recently joined by reporter Holly Rowe starting in the 2021 season. Fowler and Herbstreit ushered in the new era in college football, teaming up to work a College Football Playoff Semifinal game and the College Football National Championship.
He served as the host for College GameDay, the network’s Emmy-winning Saturday morning college football preview show, 1990 – 2014. It won the Sports Emmy for Best Weekly Studio Show in 2015, 2014, 2011, 2010 and 2008 . In addition, his tennis workload remains robust, including calling matches for the US Open, Wimbledon and Australian Open as part of ESPN’s start-to-finish coverage of those Majors.
Over the years, he has also hosted SportsCenter, SportsCentury, horse racing’s Triple Crown races, men’s college basketball including on-site Final Four coverage and the first few editions of the X Games and Winter X Games. Fowler joined ESPN in July 1986 as the first host/reporter of Scholastic Sports America for two years.
He also has hosted ESPN’s Heisman Trophy Presentation since the network began its coverage of the event in 1994 and ESPN’s The Home Depot College Football Awards show from its inception in 1993 to 2013. In addition, he was the play-by-play voice of ESPN’s Thursday night college football games from 2006-2009 after previously serving as a sideline reporter, beginning in 1988.
For 13 years, Fowler hosted ESPN’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four coverage (1992-2005) and was a host on select editions of the inaugural season of the college basketball version of College GameDay in 2005.
In 2003 when ESPN added Wimbledon, Fowler was named the primary host of ESPN’s Grand Slam tennis coverage, which starting with the addition of the US Open in 2009, included all four majors, something no network had done before. Over the years, he increasingly has called matches at those events and other tournaments, including the finals of the Australian Open and, starting in 2012, Wimbledon. He will add the US Open to that list in 2015 with ESPN’s new exclusivity.
In 2010, Fowler served as a host for ESPN’s month-long, on-site studio coverage of the FIFA World Cup from South Africa, where he anchored pre-, halftime and post-match shows, along with SportsCenter, for the FIFA World Cup segments.
From 1998-2007, Fowler added horse racing to his resume, serving as an on-site host for ESPN & ESPN2’s extensive Triple Crown coverage (Kentucky Derby, Preakness, Belmont Stakes). He served as the host of SportsCenter’s on-site coverage of top auto racing events, including the Daytona 500 in 2006 and ‘07. In the past, Fowler anchored SportsCenter and served as co-host of the X Games from its inception in 1995-2000, as well as the Winter X Games (1998-2000). He also served as host and narrator of the SportsCentury.
Fowler is most recognized for his work as one of the nation’s best studio hosts for college sports, particularly for his role as the anchor for College GameDay – college football’s most comprehensive and authoritative studio show. In January 2004, Sporting News magazine ranked Fowler and fellow GameDay personalities Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit as 2003’s “Most Powerful Media Personalities in Sports.” Fowler has received two Sports Emmy Awards for his work on SportsCentury.
Before joining ESPN, Fowler spent nearly two years at KCNC-TV, the NBC affiliate in Denver, as a production assistant, producer/writer and sports reporter. In 1984, he worked for several months at Denver’s CBS affiliate KMGH-TV as an intern in the sports department.
Fowler received a bachelor of science degree in radio/television news from the University of Colorado in 1985. While an undergraduate, Fowler, a Denver-area native, served from 1983-85 as a producer and co-host for a weekly magazine program on the Boulder (Colo.) Cable Television System. He also was sports director at KAIR-AM, the university’s radio station, for two years. From 1982-84, he covered high school sports for the Rocky Mountain News.