NBCUniversal Sports chief Dick Ebersol leaving [Updated]
Dick Ebersol, the head of NBCUniversal Sports and one of the most powerful figures in sports and media for the last three decades, is resigning.
Ebersol's exit comes less than four months after cable giant Comcast Corp. closed on its deal to acquire control of NBCUniversal, and just a month before NBC is to bid on the 2014 and 2016 Olympics.
Ebsersol's departure is not a complete surprise. He is a forceful figure whose reach extends far beyond sports and into entertainment. He and Comcast could not come to terms on a deal, a person with knowledge of the situation said Thursday.
Ebersol was more than just a sports executive and producer. He also helped create "Saturday Night Live" and had a key role in the operations of NBC's morning franchise, "Today." He was involved in the decision to return Jay Leno to late night from prime time, which led Conan O'Brien to leave the network.
[Updated, 11:34 a.m., May 19: In a statement Thursday afternoon, Ebersol said: "What I have enjoyed most is working so closely with so many truly outstanding and incredibly talented people over decades of producing some of the greatest events in the world. Those relationships are what I cherish most. I have always said this business is about relationships and I have been fortunate enough to have more deep and meaningful friendships than any man could imagine.
"It has been a sincere privilege to tell so many remarkable stories that have inspired me throughout my entire career. Some of my favorite memories come from reading letters and talking to viewers who also have been moved by such powerful stories.
I simply want to say thank you to all of those people who have touched me so deeply throughout my career."
In a separate statement, NBCUniversal Chief Executive Steve Burke said: "Dick Ebersol is an incredible talent whose contributions to the company over the last four decades in sports, news and entertainment are unsurpassed. Dick has masterfully produced everything from the Olympics and Sunday Night Football, to the Triple Crown, NHL games and major golf and tennis events. In the entertainment world, he helped create Saturday Night Live, one of the most significant programs in television. We will miss his intellect, experience, and passion for the television business."
Mark Lazarus, who is currently president of NBC Sports Cable Group, will become the new chairman of the NBC Sports Group.]
-- Joe Flint
Photo: Dick Ebersol at a National Hockey League news conference in New York in April. Credit: Associated Press