George Bodenheimer, who joined ESPN in 1981 as a driver in the mailroom and rose to the top of the cable sports giant, is exiting the company at the end of the month.
Executive chairman of ESPN's board, Bodenheimer told staff Tuesday that this would be his final week. ESPN is a unit of Walt Disney Co.
Bodenheimer had stepped back from overseeing the day-to-day operations of ESPN in 2012 when John Skipper became president and chief executive.
“It is impossible to completely capture the impact George has had on our company and on so many of us during his remarkable 33 years with ESPN," Skipper said in a staff memo.
Bodenheimer joined ESPN just two years after the sports channel launched. He rose up on the business side and played a key role in building ESPN from a single channel to a juggernaut with scores of channels around the globe.
A low-key executive, Bodenheimer didn't want an official press release noting his departure. Instead ESPN put together a page about him on one of its websites.
In his farewell memo, Bodenheimer talked more about the people he's worked with than himself.
“I have been proud to represent the men and women of ESPN. Every day I was asked questions about the future, and my favorite answer was, ‘ESPN has the best employees in the business. They know what the mission of the company is, and together we will figure it out’…I have great faith that it will always be true," he wrote.