NBC affiliates board chairman Brian Lawlor saluted outgoing NBC Sports Chairman Dick Ebersol for bringing tremendous passion and flair to the network's trademark sports properties, including the Olympics and the booming Sunday Night Football franchise, and credited him with being "an unbelievable supporter" of NBC's affiliate body.
"Dick is a true advocate of over the air broadcasting, and I respect him incredibly," Lawlor told B&C after word of Ebersol's departure broke. "He's been a passionate television executive, a great creative mind, and a shrewd dealmaker."
Affiliates knew little of Ebersol's pending departure, which resulted after a contract squabble with Comcast-NBCU management, when they met as part of NBC's upfront presentation May 16. Ebersol spoke to the gathering, and tossed miniature footballs to the crowd while touting the standout ratings of Sunday Night Football.
NBC has the rights to the 2012 Olympics in London, and is likely to be on the short list for the winter Games in Russia in 2014 and summer Games in Rio two years later.
Mark Lazarus, president of the NBC Sports Cable Group, will replace Ebersol, according to the NY Times.
Lawlor said a strong bench of execs at NBC Sports will keep the network's sports programming best in class. "I'm 100% confident that NBC is fully committed to grow NBC's sports brand," said Lawlor, who heads up the Scripps station group. "A lot of people have been there a long time. They share Dick's vision and know how to execute it."