Chris Connelly
Journalist Chris Connelly on Wednesday was named interim editor-in-chief of the online sports and pop-culture blog Grantland, replacing Bill Simmons. Getty

ESPN on Wednesday named Chris Connelly the interim editor-in-chief of Grantland, where he will replace Bill Simmons, the vocal founder of the sports and pop-culture blog whose contract earlier this month was not renewed by the company. Connelly had previously contributed to other affiliated programming and publications such as E:60, Outside the Lines and ABC News as well as Grantland before being named to the position.

“We are thrilled to have a journalist of Chris’ caliber join us on an interim basis as we go forward and build on the smart, fun, adventurous, creative, unexpected and vital spirit of Grantland,” said Maria Donoghue, ESPN’s executive vice president of global strategy and content, in the company's announcement. “Chris has been an award-winning journalist and storyteller in sports, music and pop culture for over three decades, and as a longtime contributor at Grantland, he appreciates the incredible team we have assembled.”

Simmons, who has had a notoriously strained relationship with ESPN over control of his columns, developed and founded Grantland in 2011 within the company's larger media empire. ESPN is owned by the Walt Disney Co. (as is ABC) and Hearst.

“Bill Simmons had the vision to create Grantland, and his leadership, ideas and inspiration made it singularly great,” Connelly said as part of ESPN’s statement. “I’m looking forward to helping the writers, editors and producers on this amazingly talented staff create more of the outstanding work for which they’ve rightly become known.”

Connelly has won four Sports Emmys and seven Edward R. Murrow Awards, as well as a Prism, a Gracie and a National Headliner Award. Before joining ESPN in September 2001, Connelly worked at MTV for more than 12 years as a correspondent, interviewer and host.

Connelly will continue to contribute to other ESPN programs in addition to serving in his interim role for Grantland. It was unclear how long his tenure was expected to be.