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Veteran ESPN presenter Bob Ley has announced that he is to retire after 40 years at the sports broadcaster at the end of this month.

In a statement issued through ESPN, Bob Ley said; “Across 40 years I have enjoyed a professional journey unimaginable when I joined ESPN on its first weekend of existence in 1979. Each day since has been a unique adventure, one I embraced for the challenge and unequalled fun of a job like no other.”

He went on to say; “To be clear, this is entirely my decision. 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.”

Ley then continues by praising his colleagues and the management of ESPN over the years, adding; “To Jimmy Pitaro and his senior leadership team, my sincere personal thanks for their understanding and patience over the past months.

“Through the decades, and my innumerable experiences at ESPN, I have built many deep and fulfilling friendships. 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.

“I have been gifted by our viewers and consumers with a precious commodity – your trust. To be invited into your homes was a privilege I never took for granted, one I worked each day to uphold. Thank you for that.”

Bob Ley has hit some milestones during his 40 year tenure at ESPN, hosting the first live televised coverage of the NFL Draft and the first ever NCAA selection show.

Ley has also helped ESPN win two Peabody Awards – most recently for its coverage of the sister survivors, Larry Nassar and Michigan State and in 2013 for the OTL report “NFL at a Crossroads,” which examined brain injuries.

ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro said; “The standard of excellence that has become a hallmark of ESPN began in the early days when we were a start-up with a bold vision. 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.”

ESPN’s Executive Editor Norby Williamson also added; “While Bob Ley’s departure from Outside the Lines ends an important era for the show, we are excited for what lies ahead for this critical news and information brand. Helping to further the connectivity OTL has with SportsCenter, Jeremy Schaap and Ryan Smith, two well-established journalists with prior OTL hosting experience, will handle the bulk of anchoring duties.”

Originally a SportsCenter anchor and the leading host of ESPN’s NCAA basketball coverage, Ley quickly became the face of ESPN’s aggressive coverage of breaking news and issues. He established himself as a respected voice for ESPN’s industry-leading reporting on the most important and sometimes controversial topics in sports.

From topics like doping in the Olympics and steroid use in major sports to stories about domestic violence and sexual abuse, Ley has always known how to present stories in a way that was professional, objective and smart, while serving fans in a responsible, factual manner.