Bob Ley is retiring from ESPN at the end of June after a 40-year career on the air. Ley, 64, joined ESPN as a SportsCenter anchor on Sept. 9, 1979, day three of the network's operation. In 1980, he hosted the first NCAA selection show and live broadcast of the NFL draft and continued in that role for the next nine years.
Ley is ESPN’s longest tenured anchor.
"To be clear, this is entirely my decision," Ley said on ESPN.com. "I enjoy the best of health, and the many blessings of friends and family, and it is in that context that I'm making this change."
He was the host of investigative program Outside The Lines since the show launched in 1990 and also hosted weekly E:60 on Sunday mornings.
"Bob has been our North Star and always kept us going in the right direction,'' anchor Chris Berman said on ESPN.com. "He kept us honest. When you watched him you knew what you were getting and you were getting it straight.”
Ley spoke of the “privilege” of viewers inviting him into their homes by clicking on their remotes.
"Through the decades, and my innumerable experiences at ESPN, I have built many deep and fulfilling friendships,” he added. “You know who you are. I hope you also know how much you mean to me. We have shared an American story unlike any other. And we will continue to do so in the years ahead.”
Jim Pitaro, ESPN president and co-chair, Disney Media Networks, saluted the outgoing anchor. "The standard of excellence that has become a hallmark of ESPN began in the early days when we were a startup with a bold vision," Pitaro said. "Bob was there for all of it and, over the years, his unwavering commitment and unparalleled work ethic drove our journalistic ambitions. The best way we can thank Bob for what he's meant to ESPN and to sports fans is to continue to uphold the journalistic integrity and principles he's instilled in ESPN for nearly 40 years.”