2017-12-18 11:45:03
John Skipper Resigns as ESPN President, Citing Substance Addiction

11:45, December 18 282 0

In a shocking announcement that will reverberate across the sports media landscape, John Skipper, the president of ESPN, announced his resignation on Monday. Skipper, who has been president of the company since 2012, recently signed a contract extension through 2021.

In ESPN’s announcement of the resignation, Skipper disclosed that he has a “substance addiction,” and that “the most important thing I can do right now is to take care of my problem.”

“I come to this public disclosure with embarrassment, trepidation and a feeling of having let others I care about down,” he said.

ESPN said that George Bodenheimer, a former ESPN president who has also served as its executive chairman, would serve as its acting chairman for 90 days, after which a permanent president would presumably be named.

Besides recently signing an extension, Skipper was very visible up until his resignation. Last weekend, he attended the company’s telecasts of the Heisman Trophy ceremony and the Lomachenko-Rigondeaux fight. Last week, he was the keynote speaker at the Sports Video Group Summit, and led a meeting at the company’s Bristol, Conn., campus for 450 of its most prominent camera-facing talent.

The last six months have been perhaps the most trying time of Skipper’s almost five years in charge of the company. The amount of people who subscribe to cable packages including ESPN has continued to decline, leading to two painful rounds of layoffs. A number of controversies have erupted around social media use by the company’s employees, and it canceled a partnership with Barstool Sports after just one episode of their collaboration aired.

Last week, The Boston Globe reported on a hostile work environment for women at ESPN.

There is no obvious successor for Skipper, who has overseen multiple executive shake-ups over the last year. Possible successors inside the company include Connor Schell, head of content; Justin Connolly, head of sales and marketing; and Burke Magnus, head of programming.