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ESPN president John Skipper resigns, citing substance-abuse issues


By Bennett Bennett, Staff writer

December 18, 2017 | 3 min read

ESPN announced the resignation of company president John Skipper, who had been with the network from 1997 and held the position since 2012.

ESPN John Skipper and John Bodenheimer

ESPN's John Skipper (right) resigned from his role; former president George Bodenheimer looks to find Skipper's replacement / ESPN

The sports network, which laid off over 250 staffers this year according to The New York Times, named former president and executive chairman George Bodenheimer as interim chair as ESPN and Disney (its parent company) seek Skippers' successor.

Skipper joined ESPN as the senior vice president and general manager of ESPN: the Magazine in 1997. Regarding his departure, he said: "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." Skipper said that he came to this disclosure with "embarrassment, trepidation and a feeling of having let others I care about down."

Disney's Bob Iger wished Skipper well, "during this challenging time. I respect his candor and support his decision to focus on his health and his family. With his departure, George Bodenheimer has agreed to serve as Acting Chair of ESPN for the next 90 days to provide interim leadership, help me identify and secure John’s successor, and ensure a smooth transition."

Bodenheimer's responded that he's stayed in close contact with Skipper, and that he believed in the direction he’s taking ESPN. "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.”

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