Bill Simmons, one of ESPN's most well-known personalities, is leaving the network after 14 years.
He will depart when his contract expires this fall. The New York Times broke the story.
"I decided today that we are not going to renew Bill Simmons' contract. We have been in negotiations and it was clear it was time to move on," said ESPN president John Skipper. "ESPN's relationship with Bill has been mutually beneficial - he has produced great content for us for many years and ESPN has provided him many new opportunities to spread his wings. We wish Bill continued success as he plans his next chapter.”
Skipper said that Grantland, the sports and pop-culture website that Simmons launched in 2011, will remain with ESPN. “We have a strong team in place." No word on who will replace Simmons as edior-in-chief.
Simmons first joined ESPN in 2001 as a writer for ESPN.com and quickly became one of the most popular writers for its former “Page 2” portal. In his 14 years with ESPN, Simmons – nicknamed “The Sports Guy” – became one of the most influential sports writers in the country. He launched his ESPN-hosted podcast, The B.S. Report, in 2007 and was instrumental in the launch of ESPN’s lauded 30 for 30 documentary brand.
Simmons also had a brief tenure as a writer on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live! (he is close friends with Kimmel). He spent two seasons as a member of ESPN/ABC’s NBA pregame show NBA Countdown and even had his own NBA show this season The Grantland Basketball Hour.
During his tenure, Simmons was known for being outspoken. He often liked to take the role of the outsider compared to ESPN’s other reporters – he wrote his columns from the fan perspective and was one of the first to fully embrace online media. He also had a few dustups with ESPN, most notably last fall when he was suspended for three weeks for calling NFL commissioner Roger Goodell a “liar” during one of his podcasts and essentially dared his bosses to suspend him. He was also suspended from Twitter in 2013 for disparaging ESPN’s First Take and got into another social media feud with Mike & Mike.
It is not known what is next for Simmons, who has not made any type of statement yet. There is speculation he could join another traditional media outlet such as Fox or Turner (which, like ESPN, owns NBA rights) or end up starting his own media company with investment from private equity.
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