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ESPN denies Coachman signing
By JON WALDMAN -- SLAM! Wrestling


One of wrestling's hottest rumours was officially killed today as SLAM! Wrestling has learned that Jonathan Coachman has not signed with ESPN.

In a statement to SLAM! Wrestling, Dave Nagle, Manager of Media Relations for ESPN's Communications Department, stated that "all I can say is that these 'rumors' are untrue...we do not have a signed deal. There is nothing more to say."

The rumours on Coachman's departure began soon after his seemingly final Smackdown broadcast on April 26, 2008. As of the Backlash pay-per-view April 28, Coachman had been replaced by Mick Foley as the Smackdown colour commentator alongside play-by-play man Michael Cole.

Among the reports that had surfaced in recent days was one from Dave Meltzer, who in his "Monday News Update" on wrestlingobserver.com on May 5, stated that "with his WWE contract about to expire, Jonathan Coachman was hired for an anchor position at ESPN."

Additionally, Mike Johnson of PWInsider.com stated in an article also published May 5 that "PWInsider.com can confirm Coachman has been hired by ESPN as an anchor. There's no word on when Coachman will debut for the cable sports network, but internally, WWE sources believe Coachman will be finishing up shortly, if he isn't done already with the company."

Johnson's report followed a hotline story from PWInsider that, as noted in the same May 5 piece, "Coachman was in the midst of the interview process for an on-air position with ESPN and that WWE put Mick Foley into his Smackdown color commentary role as they wanted someone who would be able to put the company first and foremost on their list of responsibilities."

Coachman, commonly known as "The Coach," is one of WWE's longest serving on-air employees, having joined the company in 1999. Throughout his tenure with WWE, Coachman has served in several positions, including being a commentator on Raw, Smackdown and Heat, a backstage interviewer, an off-time wrestler and general manager of Raw.

Outside of his WWE responsibilities, Coachman has also been a broadcaster for the College Sports Network, MSG and other stations.

Stay tuned to SLAM! Wrestling for more on this developing story.