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Bob Ley, ESPN’s longest-serving commentator, has signed a long-term extension to remain with the network he joined as a SportsCenter anchor on its third day of operation (September 9, 1979).
The agreement comes as the award-winning Outside the Lines, which Ley has hosted since its inception in May 1990, celebrates its 25th anniversary.
“I am thrilled that Bob Ley will continue at ESPN — for the past 35 years he has set the standard for sports journalism and we and fans have been the beneficiary,” said ESPN President John Skipper. “At any significant news event we can count on Bob to be prepared, objective and keenly attuned to the issues and the search for informed truth. On the daily desk at Outside the Lines, at Town Hall meetings and SportsCenter specials, he has provided distinct and distinguished coverage of the most important news related to sports. No one in sports journalism stands taller in this era. We are proud to keep him in the ESPN family.”
Ley was most recently lauded for his hosting of ESPN’s day long coverage following the indictments of several senior FIFA officials, and the subsequent presidential election for soccer’s global governing body. ESPN capitalized on Ley’s life long passion for soccer which has seen him host the 2014 FIFA World Cup from Brazil and the 2011 Women’s World Cup from Germany, and serve as lead commentator for World Cup ’98 and host of ESPN’s on-site studio coverage of the 2010 FIFA World Cup from South Africa.
Ley will retain his soccer responsibilities under the new agreement, serving as primary host on key soccer properties, including Euro qualifiers, Euros 2016, World Cup coverage and key U.S. Men’s National Soccer team matches.
Ley will also remain host of Outside the Lines as it enters its second quarter century, (to be celebrated by a primetime anniversary special July 7 at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN). The award-winning OTL has evolved from periodic specials to a six-days-a-week series (Sunday – Friday) which has captured 11 Sports Emmy Awards and three CableACE Awards as cable’s top Sports Information Series. Ley and Outside the Lines have received the most coveted prizes in TV journalism; including a recent duPont Award and Peabody Award, as well as multiple Edward R. Murrow Awards while also being recognized with Northeastern’s 1995 Excellence in Sports Journalism Award and Lifetime Achievement honor in 2009 from the University’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society, together with the University’s School of Journalism.
“I’m very fortunate, each day, to continue to find the challenge in the stories and issues in our sporting culture, and equally lucky to have the time and the space to examine them, working with the most creative and dedicated staff in the business,” Ley said. “Between our reporting and analysis on Outside the Lines, and the opportunities with our soccer coverage across the planet, I’m looking forward to our best work yet.”
A New Jersey native and 1976 magna cum laude graduate of Seton Hall University where he is a member of the Board of Regents, Ley has hosted ESPN’s NFL Draft coverage (1980-89) and its NCAA basketball tournament studio show (1980-89) which perfected the “whip-around” format. The recipient of an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters at the University of Hartford’s 51st annual Commencement ceremony in 2008 when he presented the main commencement address, Ley is also identified with ESPN’s coverage of major sports stories which land on the front page, from Magic Johnson’s AIDS announcement to Pete Rose’s suspension by Bart Giamatti.