ESPN president John Skipper resigns to seek help with substance addiction
Skipper leaves behind a legacy of blockbuster broadcast-rights deals with the NFL and the NBA
After nearly six years as president of ESPN, John Skipper has resigned, citing in a statement Monday the desire to seek help for a "substance addiction" that he said he has battled "for many years."
President of ESPN since 2012 and part of the company since 1997, when he became the senior vice president and general manager of ESPN The Magazine, Skipper will be succeeded by interim chairman George Bodenheimer, who previously served as president from 1998-2011. And he leaves behind a legacy of broadcast rights decisions, including, as Pro Football Talk reported, "the NFL's single most lucrative" partnership -- a $1.9 billion commitment to host Monday Night Football through 2021.
Skipper was also the driving force behind ESPN's current NBA deal, a nine-year pact signed in 2014, with rights fees of $1.4 billion annually.
Bodenheimer will be tasked with aiding Disney chairman and chief executive officer Bob Iger replace Skipper in the next 90 days, Monday's ESPN statement reads, and navigating the company's direction with future NFL partnership figures to be one of the biggest burdens of the job.
Skipper, 61, thanked Iger and Bodenheimer in his resignation:
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.
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