ESPN host Dan Le Batard announced on Thursday that he will be leaving the network early next year to pursue an unnamed new venture.

"It was mutually agreed that it was best for both sides to move on to new opportunities and we worked together closely to make that possible," ESPN executive vice president and executive editor Norby Williamson said in a statement. "We thank Dan for his many years and contributions to ESPN and wish him all the best going forward." The finale of The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz will air Jan. 4, the same day he will host his last episode of Highly Questionable.

"Gracias to ESPN for unleashing Papi and Stugotz upon an unsuspecting America, and for lending its substantive credibility to our careening clown car," Le Batard said in a statement. "Can’t believe Stugotz finally achieved his dream of becoming a high-priced free agent. I’m forever indebted to Erik Rydholm, Matt Kelliher and their vibrant team for providing a creative oasis across a decade, and for expanding the Le Batard family to include so many brilliant colleagues who have become forever friends, bonded eternally by laughter and love."

He went on to thank every individual who helped him or contributed to his show during his tenure, which started at ESPN Radio in 2013. "In short, thank you, Disney and ESPN, for a quarter century of absurd blessings. To our loyal army of concerned fans, and to everyone who walked along and played an instrument in our Marching Band to Nowhere, know that it is a very exciting time for us, not a sad one," he continued. "While he didn't indicate what his next venture will be, he did tease that fans will "be hearing our laughter again soon enough."

The news comes shortly after Le Batard rehired his show's producer Chris Cote, who was fired by ESPN as part of its COVID-19-related restructuring. Le Batard even insisted on paying for Cote's salary himself. "It's the greatest disrespect of my professional career that I got no notice, no collaboration," said Batard of the firing, on which he was not consulted.  It's unclear if his departure is at all connected to the incident. 

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