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Top exec Norby Williamson out at ESPN after nearly 40 years

An era is over at ESPN.

Longtime network executive Norby Williamson is out effective Friday after a tenure that stretched nearly four decades, The Post has learned.

About a year ago, Burke Magnus was promoted above Williamson to become president of ESPN content.

Norby Williamson out at ESPN after nearly 40 years. The Washington Post via Getty Images

Sources said that Magnus and Williamson did not share a vision that aligned with ESPN’s long-term strategy and that Magnus made the decision to part ways with the seasoned executive.

“Almost 40 years ago in 1985, I was so very fortunate to be offered an opportunity at ESPN,” Williamson said in a memo to ESPN staff obtained by The Post.

“Due to the exceptional hard work, creativity and commitment of the people at 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.”

A search for Williamson’s replacement will begin immediately, and there will be an interim reporting structure for the team under Williamson, Magnus said in a memo sent to ESPN staff.

Norby Williamson at the Annual Sports Emmy Awards. Getty Images

Williamson’s contract had been slated to run until ESPN and ABC air the Super Bowl in early 2027.

In a career at ESPN that began in the mailroom in 1985, Williamson rose to become one of the Worldwide Leader’s top executives.

Burke Magnus had a different vision than Norby Williamson. NurPhoto via Getty Images

His most recent title was Executive Editor and Head of Event and Studio Production, a role in which he oversees all of ESPN’s NFL and college football live game and studio content.

He was especially tied to the “SportsCenter” brand over the years.

Williamson, 60, has famously butted heads with a number of ESPN’s top talent over the years, ranging from Stuart Scott to Dan Patrick to most recently Pat McAfee, who called out Williamson twice on-air in recent months.

Burke Magnus’ memo to ESPN staff about Norby Williamson’s departure.

McAfee hinted that Williamson had leaked negative ratings info and accused him of trying to sabotage the show.

One source insisted that Williamson’s exit was not at McAfee’s behest and would have inevitably happened as a result of his having different content visions than Magnus.

Williamson has long been a proponent of meat-and-potatoes sports content and had great relationships with the talents who colored between the lines to stay in that vision.

Norby Williamson at the 2019 ESPYs with family. Getty Images

In the memo, Magnus said that the search to replace Williamson would begin as soon as possible.

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