As rumors fly around about the fate of American Idol in the wake of Simon Cowell’s departure, we have some official news to report on the subject. Idol judge Ellen Degeneres is leaving the show.

This is no rumor as Fox released the official announcement today, stating that it was Degeneres’ decision to bow out of the show after just one season as judge.

“A couple months ago, I let FOX and the AMERICAN IDOL producers know that this didn’t feel like the right fit for me,” said DeGeneres. “I told them I wouldn’t leave them in a bind and that I would hold off on doing anything until they were able to figure out where they wanted to take the panel next. It was a difficult decision to make, but my work schedule became more than I bargained for. I also realized this season that while I love discovering, supporting and nurturing young talent, it was hard for me to judge people and sometimes hurt their feelings. I loved the experience working on IDOL and I am very grateful for the year I had. I am a huge fan of the show and will continue to be.”

Ellen’s departure seems to be amicable enough and given the continued success of her talk show, it’s no real surprise that if it came down to choosing one or the other, she’d stick to her show. All the same, with all the talk about Nigel Lythgoe returning and the possibility of a judge-shuffle/re-cast, I’m curious to see if there are any other major announcements on the Idol judges in the near future. Will Kara and Randy continue judging or are the producers going to move forward with recasting and hope that a new set of voices might entice viewers to tune in next season.

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