All Prime-Time NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships Sessions on ESPN for the First Time

Miscellaneous Sports

All Prime-Time NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships Sessions on ESPN for the First Time

  • ESPN Televises Second Round, Semifinals and Finals; ESPNU has First Round, Quarterfinals and Medal Round
  • ESPN Streams Every Mat, Every Match for Fourth Consecutive Year; Off the Mat for Finals
  • Jim Gibbons, Tim Johnson, and Anthony Robles Return to ESPN’s TV Coverage; Billy Baldwin as Guest Analyst

Unprecedented coverage of the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships features three consecutive nights of prime-time coverage on ESPN for the first time beginning Thursday, March 16. Combined with ESPNU, all six sessions will be televised and ESPN will stream every mat, every match of the championship from Scottrade Center in St. Louis providing fans with unmatched coverage of the sport’s pinnacle event.

ESPN’s Television and Digital Coverage

ESPN’s prime-time coverage begins with the second round Thursday, March 16, at 7 p.m. ET, the first time a session from the championships’ first day has been televised on ESPN (previously has aired on ESPNU). As in years past, the semifinals and finals will air on ESPN on Friday, March 17, and Saturday, March 18, respectively, beginning at 8 p.m. both nights.


ESPNU will carry all the championships’ earlier sessions each day, beginning with the first round on March 16 (noon), continuing with the quarterfinals on March 17 (11 a.m.) and the concluding with the medal round on March 18 (11 a.m.)

Throughout the entire three days, during all six sessions, ESPN3 streams every single mat and match, allowing fans to follow any wrestler and/or school. During the finals ESPN3 will once again offer Off the Mat — a combination of live matches, highlights and interviews with newly crowned champions (more details below).

ESPN’s Coverage Highlights

  • Television coverage will often show multiple mats at one time with a scroll of both individual results and team standings continuously updating fans in real time:


  • ESPN’s scroll will let fans know which matchups are coming up next on specific mats:


  • On ESPN3, fans will be provided a menu of current matches, allowing them to choose which one to watch:


  • For computer users, ESPN3 will once again offer multi-mat, simultaneous viewing allowing fans to watch up to four different mats at one time or substitute a video quadrant for real-time standings:


  • Team standing will keep fans up-to-date in real time; standing page will be an option on ESPN3


Additional Coverage Highlights

  • ESPN3 will have announcers stationed at each mat providing commentary for each specific feed to further enhance the streaming experience.
  • ESPN will utilize still photography throughout the telecasts, capturing the event in a unique way. A look back at a full gallery from last year’s event.
  • Fans can follow the action on Twitter through @NCAAWrestling and join the conversation by tagging their tweets #NCAAWrestling

Off the Mat – ESPN3 Special During Finals:

ESPN3’s Off the Mat during the Championship Finals (March 18 at 8 p.m.) will feature two of college wrestling’s most decorated athletes – Jim Gibbons and Lee Kemp. The duo will provide viewers a unique perspective of the sport’s ultimate finale, along with Kenney who will host. Billy Baldwin will also join the coverage.

While also bringing viewers live action, the analysts — unrestricted by television parameters — will discuss each match from a tactical and mental standpoint, describing the wrestlers’ thought process before, during, and after a finals match. Off the Mat will go behind the scenes, show medal ceremonies and feature an array of guests throughout the night, including newly crowned NCAA National Champions and their coaches.

ESPN Analysts:

  • Tim Johnson: The “voice of college wrestling” returns once again to ESPN’s coverage, having been a part of it for more than a decade. Named the 2007 broadcaster of the year by the National Wrestling Media Association. His broadcasting and leadership roles in the sport of wrestling span more than 30 years, including being the director of wrestling for the Los Angeles Olympic Games in 1984. Inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame as the recipient of the prestigious Order of Merit award honoring a lifetime of contributions to the sport of wrestling.
  • Anthony Robles: Now in his sixth year as an ESPN analyst, the Arizona State graduate is a three-time All-American and a 2011 NCAA National Champion.
  • Jim Gibbons: Gibbons is a former NCAA Wrestling Coach of the Year, three-time All-American, two-time Big Eight winner at Iowa State and later won an NCAA National Championship as the Cyclones head coach. He was inducted in the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2003.
  • Lee Kemp: Won three NCAA National Championships as a wrestler at Wisconsin and three gold medals in the World Championships. He was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1990.
  • Billy Baldwin: A former standout wrestler at Binghamton University turned actor, Baldwin will be a guest analyst throughout the three days for the second straight year. He was a leader in keeping the sport in the Olympic Games having joined USA Wrestling’s Committee to Preserve Olympic Wrestling.

Mike Couzens will call the action at the wrestling championships for the first time, handling all the prime-time sessions. The experienced ESPN commentator will be adding to his impressive resume, as he already calls numerous college football and basketball games. Shawn Kenney returns to the coverage and will handle the play-by-play for the earlier rounds each day.  Quint Kessenich will be the reporter on the telecasts.

For more information on the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships:
2017 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships Schedule 

Date Time (ET) Session Network/
WatchESPN Link 
Number of ESPN3 Mat Feeds
Thu, March 16 Noon –  3:30 p.m. First Round ESPNU/ Eight Mats
  7 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. Second Round ESPN/ Eight Mats
Fri, March 17 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Third Round  –  Quarterfinals ESPNU/ Eight Mats
  8 p.m. – 11 p.m. Fourth Round  – Semifinals ESPN / Six Mats
Sat, March 18 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Fifth Session – Medal Round ESPNU/ Three Mats
  8 p.m. – 11 p.m. Sixth Session – Championship Finals ESPN/ One Mat

Please Note: and the WatchESPN and ESPN app will have links for individual mat feeds throughout the Championship

Pictures used in this release are mock-ups and use fictitious names; they are not supposed to be factually accurate 


Media contact: Derek Volner at 860-384-9986; [email protected] and @DerekVolner

Derek Volner

I currently lead ESPN’s NFL Communications, including Monday Night Football, NFL Draft and studio programming. Previously, I did the same for ESPN’s vast college football portfolio. I have been with ESPN since 2013.
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