John Skipper, the President of ESPN, announced his resignation on Monday, citing a “substance addiction” of “many years” as the primary reason. Skipper has been president of the company since 2012.
ESPN, a division of the Walt Disney Company, said George Bodenheimer, a former ESPN president who has also served as its executive chairman, would serve as its acting chairman for 90 days. The company will then presumably name a permanent president.
Following is Skipper’s statement:
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.
Bob Iger, Chairman and CEO of the Walt Disney Company responded by stating, “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. 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. I am grateful for George’s support and look forward to working with him again in this temporary role.”
George Bodenheimer echoed these thoughts by saying, “I have great respect for John’s leadership, and I applaud the courage he’s demonstrating by addressing his challenge head on. The most important thing right now for John and his family is that he conquers his addiction, and the entire ESPN family is behind him. I’ve stayed in close contact with John, and I believe 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.”
Disney recently announced a planned acquisition of 21st Century Fox that includes 22 regional sports networks likely to fold into the ESPN umbrella.