In May 2015, Ley was lauded for his hosting of ESPN’s coverage following the indictments of several senior FIFA officials, and the subsequent presidential election for soccer’s global governing body.
Throughout his tenure, Ley became identified with ESPN’s coverage of major stories, breaking news and cases where sports-related events land on the front page, from Magic Johnson’s AIDS announcement to Pete Rose’s suspension by Bart Giamatti. Viewers benefited from Ley’s smooth, steady delivery and keen ability to find the right phrase to put issues into perspective, whether from San Francisco where he provided the first live national reports during the 1989 World Series earthquake (ESPN’s production facilities were not dependent on local electrical power), or in the studio where he anchored ESPN’s first post-attack programming on 9/11 (after simulcasting ABC News’ coverage throughout the day). He also lent his expertise in providing ESPN interviews with four U.S. Presidents (Ford, Clinton, G.H.W.Bush aboard Air Force One and G.W.Bush).
Ley also hosted ESPN’s NFL Draft coverage (1980-89) and the NCAA basketball tournament studio show (1980-89) which perfected the “whip-around” format that helped to raise the tournament to its current status. He also covered several NCAA basketball Final Fours, hosted live special events for ESPN, and done play-by-play commentary for college basketball, boxing, soccer and CBA basketball.
A 1976 magna cum laude graduate with a bachelor of arts degree in communications from Seton Hall University where he served on the Board of Regents, Ley began his career in television as an undergraduate. He was a production manager at WOR-AM in New York (1975-77) and also served as public address announcer for the Cosmos of the North American Soccer League, and as a sportswriter for the Passaic (N.J.) Herald-News. In 1976, Ley joined Suburban Cablevision (East Orange, N.J.) as director of sports/public affairs. During his three years there, Suburban Cablevision won four local CableACE Awards for both sports and overall programming.
A New Jersey native, Ley, born March 16, 1955, was valedictorian at Bloomfield (N.J.) High School, class of 1972. The married father of two daughters, he was inducted into the Bloomfield Athletic Hall of Fame for his contributions to sports journalism in May 1987. He was the recipient of an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters at both Seton Hall which he received while giving the commencement address in 2019 and the University of Hartford’s 51st annual Commencement ceremony in 2008 when he presented the main commencement address.