Eleven years ago, Max McGee was a college dropout working two minimum wage jobs in his hometown of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, sending out cover letters during his bathroom breaks.
But starting Jan. 31, McGee, a 2015 journalism alumnus, will join ESPN as an anchor for the network’s signature program, SportsCenter.
“I didn’t think it was feasible either for me, at ESPN, to go from serving people rib platters and catering at random peoples homes every week to being on live television broadcast every day on national TV,” McGee said.
McGee reached out to ESPN executives on LinkedIn in October 2021 and auditioned in early December. A week later, he was offered a job as an anchor.
“I’m still a baby in the industry compared to most people,” McGee said. “For me to get the opportunity to work with the best of the best in the world at ESPN, that’s an incredible honor.”
In 2016, McGee landed his first job in television as a reporter and producer for KPLC, an NBC affiliate in Lake Charles, Louisiana, McGee said.
Working for KPLC helped McGee develop his professional skills because he was completely focused on producing newsworthy content for the station, he added.
McGee worked there until 2017, and then became the weekend news anchor for a year and a half at WMBF, an NBC affiliate in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. In 2019, McGee accepted a job as news anchor at WJZ, CBS’s sister station in Baltimore, and worked there until this January.
“I’m wrapping that journey up in a week or so and that kind of changed my life, that kind of propelled me for this ESPN opportunity,” McGee said.
After graduating from community college, McGee enrolled at Temple in 2013 to study journalism. While at the university, McGee got involved with student media outlets, like OwlSports Update, WHIP radio and hosted on the show “Stadium Talk,” to give him valuable hands-on experience like thinking on his feet and writing stories for broadcast.
While working for Update, McGee grew close to Matt Fine, associate media studies and production professor and executive producer for OwlSports Update.
McGee was still new to journalism when he came to Update but was a quick learner with a strong work ethic and brought his own story ideas to the show, Fine said.
Because McGee was smart, focused and not scared of taking risks, Fine knew that he would go far in journalism.
“You don’t leave Temple University being ready for ESPN, you have to grow,” Fine said. “And Max did exactly that to put himself in a position where he can ascend to the kind of position he’s in right now.”
McGee’s passion for sports journalism began while attending Cherry Hill High School East, where he was part of the Sports Debate Club, and participated in debate shows on the Educational Access Channel.
“It was just a bunch of kids in a journalism classroom just talking about the daily topics of whatever was happening in the world of sports, and I realized I may be able to do this for a living one day,” McGee said.
McGee started pursuing his dream of a career in sports journalism at Camden County College in Blackwood, New Jersey, from 2008 to 2012, where he got an associate’s degree in journalism and wrote articles about the Camden County basketball team for their student newspaper, the Campus Press.
During his time at Temple, McGee found his place and calling in sports journalism, said David Boardman, dean of Klein College of Media and Communication.
“To me, he really reflects what it is that Temple is all about,” Boardman said. “Which is finding your passion, overcoming obstacles along the way, overcoming whatever disappointments you might meet, persevering and succeeding.”
McGee is grateful for all the help and support he received on his journey.
“I had great parents, I had great close knit friends and really good professors at Temple that tried to mold me into the professional I am today and I couldn’t be here without them,” he added.