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Sunday, July 14, 2024

Top ESPN Exec Norby Williamson Out After Almost Four Decades

  • Burke Magnus informed employees Friday of Williamson’s departure.
  • Pat McAfee recently called the exec a ‘rat’ for ‘attempting to sabotage’ his show.

After nearly 40 years, Norby Williamson is out at ESPN.

Williamson started at the network in 1985, working his way up from the mailroom to become one of the sports media giant’s most powerful executives. He’s held the title of executive editor and head of event and studio production since 2017. Williamson oversaw all football, baseball, NHL, UFC, boxing, tennis, and golf content, as well as SportsCenter, E60, ESPN Radio, features, investigations, and newsgathering.

Front Office Sports confirmed the news and obtained a copy of president of content Burke Magnus’s note to the company, which reads, in part:

“Through his steadfast commitment and attention to detail, Norby has had a lasting impact on the sports fans’ experience. We thank Norby for his many contributions to ESPN and wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”

In January, studio show host Pat McAfee publicly called out Williamson for “attempting to sabotage” his program, describing the exec as a “rat”. ESPN sources tell FOS the McAfee incident had nothing to do with Friday’s decision, which was solely Magnus’s.

The McAfee dustup wasn’t Williamson’s first at the network. He has had conflict in the past with studio hosts, including Stuart Scott (over his iconic “boo-yah” call)—but the McAfee exchange created a bigger stir than even the former punter anticipated, and Williamson also didn’t see eye-to-eye with Magnus, according to the New York Post, which first broke the news.

Magnus said in his memo that the company is starting a search to replace Williamson “as soon as possible.”

—Michael McCarthy contributed reporting for this story.

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