ESPN President John Skipper announced today that he has stepped down from his role at the television network following what he describes as a multi-year struggle with substance addiction. Skipper plans to “take care of my problem,” according to a statement as reported by ESPN. Skipper’s statement is below:
Today I have resigned from my duties as President of ESPN.
I have had a wonderful career at The Walt Disney Company and am grateful for the many opportunities and friendships. I owe a debt to many, but most profoundly Michael Lynton, George Bodenheimer and Bob Iger.
I have struggled for many years with a substance addiction. I have decided that the most important thing I can do right now is to take care of my problem.
I have disclosed that decision to the company, and we mutually agreed that it was appropriate that I resign. I will always appreciate the human understanding and warmth that Bob displayed here and always.
I come to this public disclosure with embarrassment, trepidation and a feeling of having let others I care about down.
As I deal with this issue and what it means to me and my family, I ask for appropriate privacy and a little understanding.
To my colleagues at ESPN, it has been a privilege. I take great pride in your accomplishments and have complete confidence in your collective ability to continue ESPN’s success.
ESPN has suffered in ratings over the last few years, causing financial distress at parent company Disney and prompting speculation about how Disney will deal with the ailing network. Skippers departure comes just one week after Disney announced plans to acquire most of the assets of 21st Century Fox. The deal excludes ESPN competitor Fox Sports, but does include all of the local sports stations that previously provided Fox Sports with an edge in that area.
The acquisition of local sports channels could bolster ESPN subscribers both on television and through the ESPN Plus streaming service by making local sports games EXCLUSIVE as Disney positions itself to compete against companies like Amazon, which picked up the rights to stream NFL Thursday Night Football this season.
Skipper’s successor has yet to be announced, but will clearly have their work cut out for them.