More than three months after the departure of former Washington coach Mark Helfrich, the Big Ten Network announced on Thursday that Helfich would not be returning to the network for his final season as head coach.
Helfbert was hired by the network in January to replace longtime Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, who left to become president of CBS Sports.
He was expected to join the network as a consultant in April.
ESPN said it had hired Helfberg to serve as an “advisory” on-air personality and host of a new network show, “Inside the Big 12.”
The network also said he would serve as its executive vice president of news and sports.
Helbach had said he planned to return to ESPN after his contract expired and was considering taking a similar role with another network, which has been looking to hire him for some time.
“I am deeply saddened to leave this great place,” Helfach said in a statement released by ESPN.
“It is a great place to be and I am looking forward to returning to it and being part of its family.”
Helfenberg is the fourth person to leave the Big 10 Network in recent years, joining longtime commissioner David Pollack, who was fired in August; ESPN college football analyst John Groce, who has been a consultant for the network since 2012; and ESPN college basketball analyst David Naylor, who is leaving in March.
In his statement, Helfch said he is looking forward “to building a new career in sports media.”
ESPN has a history of hiring college football analysts.
In 2015, the network hired former Ohio State and Kansas State head coach Gary Patterson to be a consultant on its ESPN Radio show.
In 2016, the show announced it had retained ESPN’s longtime college football play-by-play announcer, Kevin Arnovitz, for its broadcast of the Big 15 basketball championship game.
Helnenberg also is a graduate of the University of Iowa, where he earned a degree in communications.
He played for Iowa in the 2008 and 2010 national championship seasons and has been part of the Hawkeyes’ basketball program since 2001.
“Mark Helfbrich was a brilliant basketball coach who led our program to an undefeated record and a national championship in 2007,” Iowa coach Fred Hoiberg said in his statement.
“His impact will be felt long after he leaves the program, and I wish him the best.”
In a statement, Patterson said, “I’m extremely proud of my time at Iowa.
He’s a great guy, a great man, and a great coach.
Mark Helfy was an exceptional coach and I thank him for everything.
He helped build our program from a group of guys that had been together for a long time.
I’ve enjoyed every moment of my career with him, and will miss it very much.”
Helafbrich has served as the ESPN analyst for two seasons.
ESPN and the Big Five conference, which includes Iowa and Kansas, said on Thursday they would continue to work with the Big Blue Network.
The Big Ten Networks’ statement said Helfberger had been hired as a “sports analyst” and was part of a larger ESPN family of people that includes former ESPN national college basketball analysts Mark Dantonio and Adam Gase, as well as current ESPN college baseball analyst Dave Cameron.
“We are excited about his continued partnership with ESPN and look forward to continuing to build on his great work with them as he continues his professional and personal development,” Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delaney said in the statement.
Delany was named the commissioner in December 2015, and Helfbrand was appointed in March 2016.
Helbrich served as interim commissioner from November 2013 to April 2015, before the Big Twelve announced it would have a new commissioner in March 2018.
He has served on the Big XII Commission for the past four years.
“With Mark Helfgich’s departure, it is now time for the Big12 to make a bold statement,” Big XII Commissioner John Swofford said in an email to reporters.
“The Big 12 has a proven history of success in college athletics, and Mark Helbrick’s experience, commitment and knowledge of the conference will serve the conference well moving forward.
The success of the league in the past will be a strong reflection of our conference’s future success, and the great strides we have made to elevate our football program.”
Helbrach was a member of the first-ever Big 12 commissioners, which was established in the wake of the merger between the Big East and the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2014.
He joined the conference in 2013 after serving as the Big Eight commissioner.
Helgbrand joined the Big South in 2013 and led the league to a 7-6 record last season, which included a first-round NCAA tournament appearance.
Helfbich was inducted into the Big Six in 2017 and was named to the league’s all-time coaching and academic honor roll.