Beyond the sidelines: Anthony Amey’s path from ESPN anchor to professor
June 13, 2023
During his tenure with KTXL-TV in Sacramento, California, Anthony Amey traveled to Candlestick Park in San Francisco. He was in town to cover a San Francisco 49ers game, but he had one item to cross off his bucket list.
“I walked right by the end zone where Joe Montana threw the iconic touchdown pass to Dwight Clark,” Amey recalled while reflecting on his journey. “In [a career in sports media], there are certain moments when you step outside of yourself. That was one of them.”
With over 25 years of experience, Amey has been present at many of those unprecedented sports moments. He covered LeBron James’ first NBA game, he interviewed Michael Jordan, and he happened to be in the Bay Area during Barry Bonds’ historic run with the San Francisco Giants in the mid-2000s.
Amey has also worn many hats: sideline reporter, news anchor, producer, writer, and sports director, to name a few. Now, he has added teaching the tools of the trade as an assistant professor of practice at Virginia Tech to his list of accomplishments.
Amey highlights the elements that he deems crucial to achieve success in the media field. Inherently, strong writing and communication skills are a must. He also emphasizes the importance of video production and editing skills, especially in an increasingly content-driven environment. However, he notes that one trait remains vastly more important than any other.
“Just don’t be a jerk; word will get around if you are,” he said. “If you’re approachable and helpful to your colleagues, you’re going to find so much more success in this field.”
Amey’s professional journey began in humid Hattiesburg, Mississippi, where he anchored and reported for nearly two years. He then found work in Alabama and Sacramento before landing a job at ESPN. Amey anchored with the sports network for four years, but ultimately decided to leave the company in 2007. That transition led him to Washington, D.C., Atlanta, and Tallahassee, Florida before making Blacksburg his new home.
The anchor-turned-academic joined the School of Communication’s faculty in August 2022. He commented about how respectful and accommodating the students and faculty have been to him, which he cited as pivotal in making his transition to Southwest Virginia much more seamless. While he mentioned a certain sense of accomplishment that he garnered from the 12-hour work days at ESPN, Amey emphasized that he certainly didn’t miss them.
“At this stage, I like not having to know what’s going on every single second,” he said. “I miss being in those arena atmospheres and being around greatness sometimes, but I don’t miss the stress and the deadlines.”
Amey stated that he values mentorship. As a result, he found a connection with Stan Verrett, a longtime anchor at ESPN. Verrett, like Amey, was a Howard University grad. While in his dorm room at Howard, Amey said he remembered receiving a phone call from Verrett after he had written him a letter. The two remained close after that initial connection, including the time when both worked on ESPN’s campus in Bristol, Connecticut in the mid-2000s.
“Stan was always open and available to critique my work and gave me some incredibly valuable advice at that first job,” Amey said. “I still valued and sought his advice because I knew that he would be providing constructive criticism for all the right reasons.”
Amey also noted the importance of doing excellent work, especially when reporters get to interview the best athletes in the world. The consensus is that if you’re going up to ask Michael Jordan an irrelevant question, you might as well just not speak at all. Much like the aforementioned legendary athletes, Amey had made a career of going above and beyond rather than just going through the motions.
The professor has a replica on his desk of Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium where the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders, used to play before moving to Maryland. He said he vividly remembers going to a game at RFK with his father when he was a child — a trip that inspired him to pursue a career in sports.
“My dad is 88 years old now,” he said. “A few years ago, I wrote him this note that included all the professional stadiums I had been to. It was kind of like a thank-you note because he gave me that vision to work in these arenas to begin with.”
When Amey walked through Candlestick Park and reminisced on that 49ers' historic catch, he added another stadium to that list. This was another thank-you nod to the generation before him and another testament to the power of sport.
Virginia Tech’s sports media and analytics major features a group of talented young individuals who will one day excel on the sidelines and in the broadcast booths. Along with other outstanding faculty members, Amey will continue to share his wisdom and equip them with the tools that this next generation of professionals need to excel in the field.
In turn, they will pick up the mantle to formulate and check off items on their own bucket lists and, of course, prepare to pay it forward.
Written by Jacob Sawyers, student writer for the School of Communication