NEW YORK — Amid news of a first-quarter profit decline, The Sports Authority said late Tuesday that president and chief merchandising officer Elliott Kerbis was leaving the company.

The Englewood, Colo.-based sport retailer said in a statement that Kerbis had resigned to “spend more time with his family,” and that it would “actively pursue” a successor. In the interim, Doug Morton, vice president and chief executive officer, will oversee Kerbis’ responsibilities.

The company’s profits fell 2.9 percent to $4.1 million, or 15 cents a share, from $4.2 million, or 34 cents, a year earlier, in the quarter ended May 1.

The retailer attributed the decline to costs associated with its merger with Gart Sports Co. last year. Excluding those costs, income rose to $9.3 million, or 35 cents a share, from $2.3 million, or 18 cents.

Net sales surged to $572 million from $228.4 million, but only inched up 0.3 percent on a comparable-store basis. The company, the nation’s largest sporting goods chain, now operates 385 stores under its various nameplates, which include the core Sports Authority stores as well as Gart, Oshman’s and Sportmart.

Management also said sales in the second quarter are projected to reach $630 million, and same-store sales would be flat over last year, while earnings are forecast to rise to $18.6 million, or 70 cents a share excluding merger-related costs. For the year, sales are now projected to reach $2.5 billion, while profits are expected to rise to between $68.8 million and $70.1 million.

Kerbis, who has more than 25 years experience in the retail industry, joined Sports Authority in 2000 after a long tenure in merchandising at Filene’s. He also held executive positions at Caldor and Macy’s East.

“Elliott was integral in building a strong merchandising team from the combined companies,” said Morton in a statement.

— Melanie Kletter

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