ESPN’s Norby Williamson Exits After Nearly Four Decades

The executive, who has managed the network’s breaking news coverage and SportsCenter, joined in 1985

ESPN Executive Vice President, Event and Studio Production & Executive Editor Norby Williamson. (Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)

ESPN veteran Norby Williamson, who has managed the sports network’s programming from breaking news coverage to “SportsCenter,” is exiting after nearly four decades.

“Almost 40 years ago in 1985, I was so very fortunate to be offered an opportunity at ESPN,” Williamson said in a statement to staffers Friday. “Due to the exceptional hard work, creativity and commitment of the people of ESPN, and to a much lesser extent my contributions, I’d like to think we’ve left our great company in a far better place than we found it.”

The move comes weeks after the executive was called out on camera by daytime host Pat McAfee. An individual familiar with the matter told TheWrap that the McAfee situation had nothing to do with the departure, but rather a disagreement with ESPN content president Burke Magnus over its long-term strategy.

In January, McAfee singled out Williamson, accusing him of leaking inaccurate ratings information about how “The Pat McAfee” is faring on the network.

“Now there are some people actively trying to sabotage us from within ESPN for more specifically, I believe Norby Williamson is the guy who is attempting to sabotage our program,” he said. “[He’]s just seemingly the only human that has information. And then somehow that information gets leaked, and it’s wrong… That’s a sabotage attempt.”

McAfee revealed his beef with Williamson dated back to 2018 when “that guy left me in his office for 45 minutes no-showed me… So this guy has had zero respect for me.”

Williamson has served as ESPN’s executive editor and head of event and studio production since September 2017. His responsibilities included oversight of “SportsCenter,” “E60,” ESPN Radio, the ESPN Features Unit, the Investigative Journalism Unit, newsgathering, and multimedia sponsorship integration.

In June 2023, the role was expanded to include oversight of all ESPN football content, including the NFL, College Football, UFL, and SEC Network, in addition to the production of MLB, CWS and LLWS baseball, the NHL, the UFC, boxing, tennis and golf.

Prior to his current role, Williamson has served at ESPN in various capacities, including as production, program scheduling and development executive vice president and senior vice president and managing editor.

In a note to employees, Magnus said that ESPN would be conducting a full search as soon as possible for a new senior content executive.

“Additionally, we will soon provide details about our interim reporting structure,” Magnus added. “We understand you may have questions about this transition. I, along with my direct reports, will be available to address any questions in the coming days. We thank Norby for his many contributions to ESPN and wish him all the best in his future endeavors. “


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