By UPI |

ESPN's Bob Ley to retire after 40 years

June 26 (UPI) -- ESPN anchor Bob Ley will retire after 40 years at the network at the end of June.

Ley, 64, announced the decision Wednesday on Twitter. The Outside the Lines staple took a leave of absence from ESPN in October. He was the network's longest-tenured anchor, joining ESPN in 1979. Ley said he will retire at the end of June.

"To be clear, this is entirely my decision," Ley tweeted. "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 also thanked ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro, ESPN's senior leadership team, his friends and viewers in the statement.

"In September, I signed off my last show saying, 'I'll catch you on the flip side.' Now it's time to take that vinyl off the turntable (ask your folks), flip it over, and drop the needle on the B-side. There are always great cuts, and hidden gems on the B-side.

"Thank you for a great run."

After joining the network during its opening week, Ley went on to host the first NCAA selection show and live broadcast the NFL Draft. He began hosting Outside the Lines in 1990, while also hosting E:60. Ley won 11 Sports Emmy Awards during his ESPN tenure.

ESPN executive vice president of event and show production and executive director Norby Williamson said Jeremy Schaap and Ryan Smith will continue as anchors for Outside the Lines.

"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," Pitaro said in a news release.

"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."