ESPN hires Mike Wells to help expand Colts coverage

Former Indianapolis Star reporter Mike Wells is going to be covering the Indianapolis Colts after all. But he’ll be doing it for ESPN.com, not Indiana’s largest daily newspaper.

It’s an odd twist in the saga of a sports reporter who has been covering the NBA for well over a decade. Before joining the Star to cover the Indiana Pacers in 2005, Wells covered the Minnesota Timberwolves for the St. Paul Pioneer Press. He credited his lengthy list of NBA contacts for helping him get the Star job.

Earlier this month, Star management reassigned Wells to the Colts. A couple of weeks later, ESPN.com officials swooped in to scoop up the veteran reporter in their own efforts to expand coverage of the up-and-coming Colts.

ESPN.com employs former Nashville Tennessean reporter Paul Kuharsky to cover the AFC South, in which the Colts play.
 
Kuharsky has done much reporting on the Colts in recent years. But Kuharsky, who joined ESPN.com in 2008 after 12 years covering the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans, lives in Nashville, and sources said ESPN officials are increasingly seeking reporters based in the NFL cities where the team they cover resides, in an effort to expand their local and regional content.

ESPN's choice of Wells seems in some ways a strange selection, given that he has very little experience covering the NFL, as a beat writer or otherwise. Star management saw it differently.
 
“Mike did a tremendous job covering the Pacers. We knew he would be equally successful as a Colts writer,” said an internal memo signed by Star Editor Jeff Taylor and Sports Editor Ronnie Ramos.

“ESPN came to the same conclusion and provided Mike with the opportunity to cover the Colts for them. He will be staying in Indy. Mike says he’ll miss The Star but is excited by the new opportunity,” the memo concluded.

Wells declined to tell IBJ on Tuesday what his next step was after departing the Star after 8-1/2 years. On Tuesday, Wells denied that he was joining ESPN—to cover the NBA and the Pacers.

Before he decided to jump ship, Wells was to be the Star’s lead Colts beat writer alongside veteran sports reporter Mike Chappell. Wells did tell IBJ that he has no hard feelings toward Star management.

The memo from Taylor and Ramos concluded: “We will move quickly to hire a Colts beat writer.”

They'd better. The Colts open training camp Saturday.

 

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