Scott Van Pelt: SportsCenter at UMD is “highlight of my professional life”

Scott Van Pelt has hosted hundreds of shows and events over the course of 22 years at the Golf Channel and ESPN. But none of them will ever mean as much to him as Tuesday night’s edition of SportsCenter broadcasted live from the Xfinity Center in front of some of the Maryland Terrapins’ most dedicated fans.

“That’s why I’ve said privately and to my friends that Tuesday night was the highlight of my professional life. I’ve done really neat things and I’ve met really cool people and I’ve been really blessed beyond measure to get to do the things that I’ve gotten to do but if I never did another show again after that I’d be fine. There’s no words to describe what it meant to me to be home. I can’t stop thinking about how thankful I am that I got to,” said the critically-acclaimed SportsCenter host.

I was blessed with the opportunity to speak with him late Thursday afternoon. Van Pelt took us behind the scenes of how the show’s production came together, his moment with Greivis Vasquez which thousands of fans witnessed inside the arena, his thoughts on the movement to rename Byrd Stadium and the one person who made an extraordinary impact on him while he was in school.

Stay tuned for a written story on the Povich Center’s website. Thank you so much to everyone at ESPN and Mr. Van Pelt for making this happen. 

LISTEN HERE!

HIGHLIGHTS:

0:30 – How did SVP convince ESPN to move SportsCenter for the night?

“It was simple. Maryland was playing Georgetown and I was going to go to the game. I told my boss if he wanted me to do the show that night, I needed to be at the game. It needed to be from the game because I was going. I just wasn’t going to miss it. Thankfully they thought it was a good idea.”

1:25 – SportsCenter became a UMD informercial?

“We just wanted to give people a sense of why we were there and a little bit of the history of the place…..the show became what it became as a result of the outcome…..Bringing the kid out to shoot half court shots, I had no idea we were doing that. That was fun.”

4:23 – Greivis Vasquez’s unexpected appearance at UMD game led to lead interview on SportsCenter

“It was crazy. At the under 4 timeout, I had to go over to put on my IFB (earpiece which producers use to communicate with hosts)…….The thing was under 4 timeout, you go over to the tunnel and get hooked up. So I get up and I’m walking over….and I look over and there’s my boy. Me and Greivis have this great friendship that dates back to his time at Maryland so he’s giving me a hug and everybody’s looking at us and then I’m like Jesus is this on the Jumbotron…… I needed to get the bleep out of the way and let Grievis have his moment, it was nuts. He was the match that lit the fuse. The team went crazy after he showed up. He’s still got the juice.”

7:25 – SVP talks about what his dad would think about Tuesday night’s game.

“My father passed away when I was in school and so he obviously didn’t live to see any of this happen and just the idea that his son would someday host a television show that has a logo that’s supposed to be his bald head, and that they would take the desk for that show and plop it in the middle of the floor and that people would stay and chant his initials at him and treat him like a big shot, I don’t know what would’ve made my dad any prouder than that.”

9:20 – SVP gives his thoughts on whether Byrd Stadium should be renamed

“If that’s the path we choose to go down at Maryland then I don’t know what other names, I don’t know the history of the names of other buildings. I don’t know the history of LeFrak among others. If their history is similar, do we wanna rename every single building on campus. I obviously don’t feel the same way he felt, I don’t support what he did. If they change the name, its not going to make me upset but if they don’t, it doesn’t make me upset either because I don’t know where it would end.

……

Lets find out about Tydings and McKeldin and LeFrak and all the names of all the other people on buildings and find out what they did and if they were awful, we just rename all of them and rename them for something else I suppose. Its an incredibly complicated issue to do a one-off and just go welp he was bad off he goes.

……

I’d be really interested to know how many people feel this way because we tend to at the moment I think react to the feelings of people and I don’t always know if it reflects how everyone feels and that’s why I’m curious to know what everyone feels.

When I hear more and if theres a compelling reason that folks just say this is why we feel this way, how we feel and why, then to ignore that would be a mistake.”

13:48 – The person who made the most impact on SVP during his time at Maryland.

16:50 – SVP’s Mt. Rushmore of all-time best Terrapin basketball players

18:06 – SVP finds out my roots and discusses how much post-graduation sucks!

19:50 – Duke or the Kardashians

20:33 – What sports journalists can learn from SVP’s relationship with Tiger Woods

23:47 – SVP’s One Big Thing

“Enjoy every moment, its over in a flash, be optimistic, be hopeful, be patient.

…….

You guys are so much more focused and driven than your predecessors ever were and I would say that I applaud it, I applaud the ambition but I feel badly for you in that you’re in such a rush to get to some finish line, to go do the next thing and the next thing is not better than where you are right now.”