NEW YORK – Greek-American sportscaster, Bob Costas, on the air for NBC Sports television since the early 1980s and prime-time host of twelve Olympic Games, from 1992 until 2016, will no longer anchor the network’s primetime coverage of the Olympics as he is passing the broadcasting torch to Mike Tirico.
Costas made the announcement Thursday morning on NBC’s “Today” show that he will no longer anchor the network’s primetime coverage of the Olympics.
Costas was born in Queens, New York City, and grew up in Commack, New York. He is the son of Jayne (Quinlan), of Irish descent, and John George Costas, an Electrical Engineer of Greek descent. His father's family ancestry can be traced back to the island of Kalymnos in the Aegean Sea in Greece.
Costas, 64, said he's not retiring from the business, but entering the "Tom Brokaw phase" of his career. Brokaw, the former NBC "Nightly News" anchor, is a commentator at big news events and makes documentaries.
The Olympics role requires the host to set the stage for the night's telecast, guide viewers on switches to different venues, handle news if it breaks and conduct on-air interviews. It was a job popularized by ABC's Jim McKay in the 1970s. Costas paid tribute to McKay in making his announcement Thursday on the "Today" show.
"I was lucky because I was surrounded by tremendous colleagues — and we kept getting the rights to it," Costas said.
Tirico was considered the heir apparent for the role since he was hired by NBC from ESPN last year. Costas said it was his choice to leave and although the decision denies him a victory lap in Pyeongchang in 2018, his most recent Winter Olympics memory may not be that pleasant. In Sochi, Russia, in 2014, Costas was sidelined for six days because of an eye infection.
He said his favorite Olympics memory was in Atlanta in 1996, when Muhammad Ali, despite his Parkinson's disease, was a surprise torchbearer who lit the flame at the stadium.
"Somehow even in that condition he was just as charismatic and magnetic as he's always been," Costas said.
Costas and Tirico, 50, have a tie that goes way back. They both graduated from Syracuse University, where Tirico was the first recipient of a scholarship in Costas' name. Tirico debuted with NBC as part of its team in Rio last summer.