February 19, 2012 – Bristol, CT – Studio D: Host Bob Ley on the set of Outside the Lines.(photo by Rich Arden/ESPN Images)

Bob Ley has essentially been with ESPN since the network launched in 1979, and has long been one of ESPN’s most admired and respected broadcasters for his work in a variety of roles, perhaps especially for his work hosting Outside the Lines.

Today, Ley announced that he’s retiring, effective at the end of June.

Ley’s statement, in full:

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 advneture, on eI embraced for the challenge and unequaled fun of a job like no other. 

Now, it is time for a change.

I will be retiring from ESPN, as of the end of the month. 

To be clear, this is entirely my decision. I enjoy the best of health, and the many blessings of friends and famil, and it is in that context that I’m making this change.

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 w 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.

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.

Here’s what ended up being Ley’s final on-air sign-off, from last fall:

ESPN chief Jimmy Pitaro released a statement as well:

Outside the Lines, meanwhile, will continue on after Ley’s exit:

When Ley’s original six-month sabbatical was up, ESPN confirmed Ley would be extending it further. Now, we know he just won’t be coming back. We’ll certainly miss Bob’s presence, and hopefully he enjoys whatever comes next.

About Jay Rigdon

Jay is a columnist at Awful Announcing. He is not a strong swimmer. He is probably talking to a dog in a silly voice at this very moment.