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Print Editions Thursday September 28th, 2023

Doug Kezirian ’00: from the pool to the ESPN sports desk

Kezirian shares his journey from Brown water polo to the pinnacle of sports broadcasting

By the time Doug Kezirian ’00 entered the Van Wickle Gates, he had already begun his transition from an elite athlete to a prominent sports broadcaster. 

At Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles, Kezirian excelled in water polo and in the classroom. In his first year of high school, his team captured the California Interscholastic Federation Championship. Kezirian was also exploring competitive sports from the sidelines as a reporter. He wrote for The Los Angeles Daily News and served as sports editor for his high school newspaper. When Kezirian took an acting class in a post-graduate year at Phillips Exeter Academy, his instructor encouraged him to pursue sports broadcasting.

“As I went through high school, I realized a career in journalism was possible,” Kezirian said in an interview with The Herald.

At Brown, Kezirian played Division I water polo. He scored the game-winning goal to capture the Ivy League men's water polo championship during his sophomore year. Despite the glory of athletic success, Kezirian knew his time in the spotlight as a competitor would not last forever. While some of his peers chased the possibility of a professional water polo career, Kezirian realized his time in the pool had an expiration date. “That dream of getting to play water polo … would have to fade away,” he said. 

Kezirian continued to seek out sports media opportunities as he worked towards a degree in economics. He covered sports for The Herald and joined WBRU, Brown’s student-run radio station. He complemented his experiences on College Hill with internships in television. 

After graduation, Kezirian turned his full attention to sports broadcasting and became the sports director and main sports anchor at KTNV-TV, an ABC affiliate in Las Vegas. Kezirian combined his economics knowledge with his passion for sport to create and co-host a sports betting radio show, “The Las Vegas Sportsline,” which is currently the highest-rated ESPN radio show in Las Vegas. Kezirian used his own athletic experience to bring a unique perspective to interviews with iconic athletes, such as Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson. Kezirian applied the discipline he learned in water polo to strengthen his burgeoning sports media career. 

“Water polo helped shape my career. I learned an incredible amount of grind, dedication and commitment to an ultimate goal,” he said. “Grinding every day swimming laps, doing the necessary work for the potential payoff, was instrumental” to his career success.

In 2012, Kezirian was invited into the ESPN studio, where he became a SportsCenter anchor and hosted several other programs, including NBA Tonight, Buzzer Beater and First Take. He also hosted halftime updates for college basketball along with College GameDay on ESPN Radio. Kezirian continues to use his economics degree to host Daily Wager, a daily sports betting news and information program on ESPN. His extensive knowledge of both numbers and sports earned Kezirian the role of ESPN’s sports betting analyst.

Despite his impressive achievements in the sports broadcasting world, Kezirian remains focused on improving his skills. “It’s all about what you can do with your craft in your path in life,” he said. “And I try to get better every day.”

Throughout his ascent in sports media, Kezirian has remained loyal to Brown Athletics and has returned to College Hill multiple times to connect with the next generation of student-athletes. Men’s and women’s water polo Head Coach Felix Mercado shared his admiration for Kezirian.

“He’s such a down to earth person with a great sense of humor. Doug is someone who decided to go after his dream … You can really do whatever you want, especially at Brown and after Brown,” he said.

 As Kezirian continues to take center stage in the growing world of sports betting, he remains grateful for his athletic career along with his time at Brown. “With broadcasting, there are so many different ways to get where you want to be,” he said. “I was a resilient person who was shaped by two things: water polo and Brown — navigating the waters on your own. The Brown flavor took over, and I figured it out.”


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