ESPN president resigns, citing substance addiction

ESPN president John Skipper was hiding a substance abuse downside for a few years. On Monday, he stopped hiding. 

Skipper’s resignation, which took impact instantly, surprised the sports activities and media worlds. ESPN hosts and staffers wished him effectively and privately puzzled who will take over the TV sports activities empire.

Disney CEO Bob Iger has given himself 90 days to determine that out. Tuesday is the start of the post-Skipper period at ESPN.

Nobody noticed this coming

Final week Skipper hosted “Expertise Gathering 2017” for almost 500 staffers. All of ESPN’s well-known faces, voices and bylines have been there for an end-of-the-year assembly in regards to the state of the enterprise. There was no trace that something was amiss.

So what was the triggering occasion for Skipper’s abrupt exit — certainly, was there one single occasion? That is unknown. “An important factor I can do proper now’s to care for my downside,” Skipper mentioned in a message to staffers.

He has requested for privateness, however followup tales are inevitable. Up to now, there’s been no indication that his resignation is linked to some other type of scandal or enterprise machination.

Disney had simply renewed his contract

Earlier this 12 months, Disney re-upped Skipper’s contract via 2021. The contract renewal information leaked one month in the past. That is what made Monday’s information even extra surprising.

Skipper apparently managed to maintain his habit a secret from even his closest confidants.

“The quantity who knew earlier than Friday night time? Zero. With 99.9% not realizing till this morning,” ESPN biographer James Andrew Miller tweeted on Monday.

Once I requested a well-placed supply why the resignation occurred now, the supply mentioned “habit does not comply with neat and orderly traces.”

The supply added: “He made a selection. He selected his life.”

This particular person additionally mentioned final week’s Disney-Fox deal had nothing to do with Skipper’s announcement.

George Bodenheimer again in cost

“You can not overstate the shock this shall be to the ESPN ecosystem,” Sports activities Illustrated media reporter Richard Deitsch wrote.

Skipper took over ESPN in 2012. His predecessor George Bodenheimer, who served as president of the community from 1998 to 2011, is now again in cost because the appearing chair. Bodenheimer is at ESPN’s headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut, as of Tuesday.

It is notable that there is a clock operating on his time within the job. ESPN says he’s in place for the subsequent 90 days to assist Iger discover a new president.

“I’ve stayed in shut contact with John, and I imagine within the course he is taking ESPN,” Bodenheimer mentioned in a press release.

If something, that is an understatement — he sat subsequent to Skipper on the Sports activities Broadcasting Corridor of Fame simply final week.

“Remember the fact that most executives at ESPN have been employed by Bodenheimer,” Miller tweeted. “That is the simplest transition doable beneath circumstances.”

Who could possibly be the subsequent ESPN president?

“All through its historical past, ESPN all the time has turned inwards to search out its subsequent president,” Sports activities Enterprise Journal reporter John Ourand wrote. 

With the job unexpectedly open now, two probably candidates are ESPN affiliate gross sales and advertising and marketing boss Justin Connolly and content material chief Connor Schell.

Different names which are circulating embody ESPN executives Russell Wolff and Burke Magnus, Disney executives Jimmy Pitaro and Kevin Mayer, and F1’s Sean Bratches, who was in rivalry for the president job again when Skipper was finally promoted.

A model of this story first appeared in CNN’s “Reliable Sources” newsletter. Subscribe here!

CNNMoney (New York) First revealed December 19, 2017: 10:49 AM ET