President of ESPN John Skipper announced his resignation to employees today through an email in which he cited addiction issues. Skipper’s statement explained,
“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 come to this public disclosure with embarrassment, trepidation and a feeling of having let others I care about down.”
Skipper will be immediately replace by George Bodenheimer, who will serve as acting chairman for 90 days as he assists Bob Iger in finding a permanent replacement. Bodenheimer has previously served as ESPN’s president from 1998 to 2011 and executive chairman until 2014. “I’ve stayed in close contact with John, and I believe in the direction he’s taking ESPN,” a statement by Bodenheimer read. “He’s assembled an outstanding leadership team — many of whom I know very well — and I am extremely confident we will work together effectively to move ESPN forward during this transition.”
Skipper stated that he and Disney “mutually agreed that it was appropriate” for him to resign. Disney CEO Bob Iger spoke of Skipper’s resignation in a statement, saying,
“I join John Skipper’s many friends and colleagues across the company in wishing him well during this challenging time. I respect his candor and support his decision to focus on his health and his family.”
Skipper started his career in publishing, working at both Rolling Stone and US, before joining ESPN in 1997 as senior vice president and general manager of ESPN The Magazine, eventually assuming the role of president on January 1st, 2012.
This news comes just a month after Disney announced they would extend Skipper’s contract through 2021.
Bloomberg has reported that according to their source close to the matter, ESPN is currently considering two internal candidates to permanently replace Skipper in addition to Bodenheimer. Connor Shell, who oversees ESPN programming and has lead the company’s film and TV programming divisions, is said to be in the running alongside Justin Connolly, ESPN’s distribution chief.