Boise’s Heather Cox joining NBC as NFL, Olympics, golf reporter

Heather Cox is leaving ESPN, where her primary roles were college football and the NBA. Here she interviews NBA star LeBron James during an Ohio State football game.
Heather Cox is leaving ESPN, where her primary roles were college football and the NBA. Here she interviews NBA star LeBron James during an Ohio State football game. Provided by Heather Cox

Television reporter Heather Cox, who has spent the past 22 years with ESPN, is joining the NBC Sports Group at the end of this month and will make her first appearance at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Cox was the lead reporter for top college football games, including the past four national championships, and NBA games for ESPN/ABC.

Her contract ends this month.

“Every time a contract ends, it makes good business sense to test the waters, but I never felt like it was the right time to leave. This time around it does make sense,’’ Cox told the Idaho Statesman on Wednesday. “This was my choice. ESPN made a very competitive, fair counter bid for me to stay ...

“You want to continue to grow, and that was an important part of wherever I ended up next.”

Cox will cover women’s and men’s indoor volleyball at Rio. The former college and professional volleyball player covered beach volleyball for NBC at the past three Olympics.

Cox will work the Paralympics, also in Rio, in September before joining NBC’s coverage of the NFL.

She is the new NFL sideline reporter for Thursday Night Football, joining booth announcers Al Michaels and Chris Collinsworth. NBC’s first game is the New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers on Nov. 17.

She’ll also work with the Football Night in America crew, doing game reports from various NFL stadiums for Bob Costas’ studio show. She’ll join Football Night in America in late September after the Paralympics.

She’s also scheduled to cover the 2018 Super Bowl in Minneapolis.

Cox will make her NBC golf debut at the PGA Phoenix Open in February. She’ll have additional assignments for the The Golf Channel.

Future coverage plans include the Winter Olympics, a first for her.

“We are excited to add Heather, a big-game reporter, to our Thursday Night Football team,” said Sam Flood, executive producer of NBC Sports. “She did an excellent job at three previous Summer Games with NBC, and appropriately, her first assignment is the Rio Olympics.”

“I am excited to join NBC Sports Group and can’t wait to travel to Rio,” Cox said in a statement. “I have always valued my Olympic relationship with NBC, and I’m thrilled to extend that full-time to the NFL, Football Night in America, golf and many more events in NBC’s deep portfolio.”

Cox lives full-time in Boise with her husband, Bill Cox, and their two children, Aly, 10, and Will, 8.

She will continue her work as an ambassador and spokeswoman for the Idaho Potato Commission.

Mike Prater: 208-377-6421, @IDS_Prater

Heather Cox on Rio Olympics

▪ On volleyball: The U.S. men are medal contenders, and the women are ranked No. 1 in the world, but have lost to Brazil in the past two gold medal matches. The women are coached by volleyball legend Karch Kiraly. “He was my idol growing up,’’ said Cox, who played college volleyball (Pacific), professionally (National Volleyball Association) and for the U.S. national team.

▪ On the Zika virus: “I’m one of those people, a strong believer in worrying about only things I can control. You need to be smart and you need to be safe, but I could go hiking in the (Boise) Foothills tomorrow and be bitten by a rattlesnake.’’