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ESPN is parting ways with one of its most popular media personalities, Bill Simmons.
ESPN president John Skipper said in a statement released Friday morning that the sports network decided not to renew Simmons’ contract. PR reps for the network tweeted the statement, which was also posted on ESPN Front Row.
Skipper said ESPN remains committed to Grantland, the sports and pop-culture site that Simmons ran and launched in 2011.
Simmons, one of ESPN’s biggest stars, was suspended for three weeks by ESPN last fall after he called NFL commissioner Roger Goodell “a liar” on his B.S. Report podcast and seemingly issued a challenge to the network to respond to his remarks. Simmons’ heated remarks came while he was discussing the Ray Rice domestic abuse scandal, which dominated NFL headlines last fall.
“Every employee must be accountable to ESPN, and those engaged in our editorial operations must also operate within ESPN’s journalistic standards,” the network said at the time. “We have worked hard to ensure that our recent NFL coverage has met that criteria. Bill Simmons did not meet those obligations in a recent podcast, and as a result we have suspended him for three weeks.”
He had run afoul of network guidelines before, getting briefly suspended from Twitter in March 2013 over pointed comments he made about ESPN programming.
In addition to serving as Grantland editor-in-chief and hosting his B.S. Report podcast, Simmons was a columnist and NBA TV analyst for ESPN.
Read the full statement from Skipper below.
“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. 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. ESPN remains committed to Grantland and we have a strong team in place.”
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