ESPN president John Skipper resigns, citing substance addiction issues

John Skipper President of ESPN INC and co-chairman Disney Media Networks addresses the media in Digital Center 2 a new 194,000 sq. ft building on the ESPN campus in Bristol Connecticut

Walt Disney Co's (DIS.N) John Skipper resigned on Monday as president of ESPN, the company's most important network, due to a problem with addiction.

"I have struggled for many years with a substance addiction", he said in a statement.

"As I deal with this issue and what it means to me and my family, I ask for appropriate privacy and a little understanding", Skipper said.

"I come to this public disclosure with embarrassment, trepidation and a feeling of having let others I care about down".

Last month, it was reported that Skipper was nearing a contract extension that would have kept him with ESPN through 2021.

Skipper first joined ESPN in 1997 as a senior vice president and the general manager of ESPN the Magazine.

This comes on the heels of an explosive report coming out late last week focusing on widespread sexual harassment allegations at ESPN (more on that here).

"I have struggled for many years with a substance addiction", Skipper, who was also Disney Media Networks co-chairman, said in a statement. "I respect his candour and support his decision to focus on his health and his family".

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Iger appointed ESPN veteran George Bodenheimer to serve as acting chairman as he works to identify Skipper's successor.

Skipper's departure is immediate, and he'll be replaced in the interim by George Bodenheimer, who previously served as ESPN's president from 1998-2011 and also as the network's executive chairman until May 2014.

In response, the company cut 150 production and technical employees in November, 100 employees in April - including several prominent on-air talent - and 300 in 2015. He helped to secure contractual agreements with "major rights holders" like the NBA, Major League Baseball, College Football Playoff, US Open tennis and the Rose, Sugar and Orange Bowls.

Under Skipper's watch, ESPN has become a divisive entity with its political grandstanding and a sense of opinion overriding the network's previous MO of straight reporting.

Skipper has played a big role in growing ESPN into a brand that was much bigger than a simple cable network, and his fingerprints could be found on nearly everything ESPN undertook.

"John is a very intelligent man and one of the smartest executives in the industry", Ourand said.

IBD'S TAKE:If you want to understand the state of the market, pay attention to the major averages and leading stocks. "I just want to know that he's OK".


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