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Bill Simmons, ESPN Cut Ties – Report

Popular sportswriter Bill Simmons and ESPN have officially cut ties, several months before his contract is slated to end, according to a report in Sports Illustrated.

ESPN and Simmons have come to an agreement, the sports-news outlet reported, that keeps Simmons from working for Grantland, the site he started for the company in 2011, according to SI. Simmons will also no longer appear in podcasts or on television for ESPN.

A spokesman for ESPN did not immediately respond to a query seeking comment.

The split would appear to end the tenure of one of the nation’s best known sportswriters, leaving open the possibility he might be able to work for another outlet. Speaking this week after the outlet’s upfront presentation, ESPN President John Skipper said he hoped to keep relations with Simmons “cordial” after disclosing days earlier he would not renew the writer’s contract when it expired in September.

Simmons and ESPN have clashed over the years. The company kept him from posting on Twitter in 2009 and 2013, the first time for criticizing a Boston sports radio program, the second for criticizing ESPN. In 2014, ESPN suspended Simmons for three weeks after he criticized the way National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell handled a domestic-violence controversy centered around player Ray Rice.

“It didn’t come down to money. We’re a big company. If it were just dollars and cents, we would ultimately have figured it out,’ Skipper said earlier this week. “It’s about, ultimately, what he wants to do, what value that creates, what we want to do together, and deciding whether it’s going to be a match. And we decided, ultimately, there wouldn’t be.” ESPN intends to support Grantland, the digital publication Simmons founded “at the same financial level and staff,”Skipper said.

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