Samantha Sainte-Claire Ponder (née
Steele ) (born December 11, 1985) is an American sportscaster from
Phoenix, Arizona who is currently a reporter/host for ESPN college football and basketball sideline reporter. Ponder is best known as the replacement for Erin Andrews on
College GameDay Saturdays at 10 AM ET on ESPN, as well as co-host of the Saturday 9 AM ET edition on ESPNU. In addition to her duties on College Gameday, Ponder has been the regular sideline reporter for ESPN's Thursday Night College Football with Rece Davis , Jesse Palmer , and David Pollack since August 2012, replacing Jenn Brown on the sidelines. Ponder also appears on the ESPN-owned Texas-oriented regional network Longhorn Network .
Her quick rise through the sports broadcasting ranks is partially credited to the variety of her experiences within the industry while still in college. At age 18, Ponder moved from Phoenix to New York City to pursue a sports television career in which she had no connections or advocates. After a few months as a hostess at ESPN Zone in Times Square, she landed an internship at ABC Sports Radio which led to an internship at ABC Sports, where she served as a research assistant for the College Football Studio Show on ABC. After three years of logging game tapes and providing research for talent, Ponder received a job offer to cover Liberty University’s football and basketball teams on the school’s cable network while completing her degree. While a student at Liberty, she was contacted by a Los Angeles talent agency, which led to a job with Fox College Sports.