Longtime ESPN chief John Skipper is resigning as a result of what he described as a long-term problem with substance abuse. “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,” Skipper said in a statement.
A leader we respect & admire has made a tough but right call. John Skipper has resigned to take on a substance addiction. Former Prez Bodenheimer to lead transition. https://t.co/9j8m6U4LcK
— Chris LaPlaca (@espn_chris) December 18, 2017
George Bodenheimer, Skipper’s predecessor as ESPN boss, will serve as acting chairman while Disney searches for a replacement.
I have great respect for John’s leadership, and I applaud the courage he’s demonstrating by addressing this 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, Bodenheimer said.
The network has dealt with controversy after controversy, some of it self-inflicted, some of it out of its control. In recent weeks, the company had made clear that Skipper was going to be the point person in an attempt to change the narrative.
The company made news earlier this year after SportsCenter anchor Jemele Hill called President Donald Trump a “white supremacist” in a tweet. Trump responded to the comment on Twitter, calling on ESPN to “apologize for untruth” and claiming the network “is paying a really big price for its politics (and bad programming). People are dumping it in RECORD numbers.”