Sports TV News
John Skipper Addresses ESPN Departure
Former ESPN President John Skipper has spoken publicly for the first time about his exit from the worldwide leader in sports. In a lengthy conversation with James Andrew Miller of the Hollywood Reporter, Skipper attributes his departure to an extortion plot.
Among the noteworthy comments offered by Skipper were an acknowledgement that he’s gone to therapy and received treatment for his lifelong battle with substance abuse. Skipper said his vice was cocaine, but he never got high at work or allowed it to interfere with his responsibilities of overseeing ESPN. He added that his usage was very infrequent
When pressed by Miller for clarity on whether or not he was forced to resign by Disney CEO Bob Iger, Skipper said he made the call himself after placing Iger in an untenable position. He confirmed that they spoke on Friday afternoon December 15th and his exit from the company was announced just three days later. When asked if he had considered resigning earlier in the week (Wednesday December 13th) when he spoke about the state of the company to a room full of ESPN employees, he said he had not.
Miller then pressed Skipper to explain how such a life altering decision could manifest itself within the span of 48 hours. Skipper opened up and admitted that someone from whom he had purchased cocaine attempted to extort him, leading him to face the reality that his time at ESPN was about to expire.
After being threatened, and put in a position to think about how the exposure could hurt his family and career, Skipper shared the details with his family. He then reached out to Iger, who felt the company had been put in a no-win situation, with the best solution being for Skipper to step down.
Given the circumstances, Skipper said he felt it was the only decision that made sense for all involved. He blamed himself for using poor judgement, and when asked by Miller why he couldn’t have just admitted the issue publicly and taken a leave of absence to get himself clean, Skipper said he didn’t ask for that outcome and had been overwhelmed by the situation. After talking to Iger and coming to terms with how he had put the company in a compromised position, it was made clear what his next steps needed to be.
The conversation then advanced to the rumors of sexual harassment being a factor in his exit from the company. Skipper categorically denied any involvement in such incidents and said that his behavior towards women at ESPN was always respectful. He mentioned that when he announced his resignation, his statement was written to make it clear that his exit was related to substance issue problems, and unrelated to anything surrounding harassment, settled lawsuits or any internal indiscretions.
Prior to announcing his exit, Skipper said he spent the weekend agonizing over what was about to occur. He said he was filled with great regret and tension, didn’t eat, wasn’t sleeping, and had become despondent.
When Monday rolled around, Skipper said he was in New York City when the news was revealed publicly. He said he rarely cries, but did so that day because he understood what he had done to himself, his family, and the company. He spoke about his disappointment of people he cared about and enjoyed working with having to find out about his departure thru a press release, and felt terrible about letting them down.
After spending 27 years with the company, Skipper blamed himself for creating a situation which undoubtedly stained his legacy. He did tell Miller that he would like to get back into the business and do things that matter. He feels he has no choice but to make the best of a bad ending, and intends to do so moving forward. The former ESPN president confirmed that he’s healthy, in a better state of mind, and has taken a few meetings to discuss future possibilities.
To close out the interview, Skipper said new ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro is someone he likes very much, and considers a talented and smart executive. He feels Pitaro’s style will be a great fit for ESPN, and added “I hope he does better than the last guy!”
Jason Barrett is the owner and operator of Barrett Sports Media. Prior to launching BSM he served as a sports radio programmer, launching brands such as 95.7 The Game in San Francisco and 101 ESPN in St. Louis. He has also produced national shows for ESPN Radio including GameNight and the Dan Patrick Show. You can find him on Twitter @SportsRadioPD or reach him by email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.
Sports TV News
Paul Byrd, Brian Jordan Won’t Return to Braves Broadcast Booth
“Brian Jordan was part of the team of analysts covering the Braves on TV last year. Byrd was a studio host.”
Atlanta Braves fans will be greeted with a very different television broadcast when Major League Baseball’s regular season begins later this month. Bally Sports South has undergone a full talent overhaul.
When the network announced its talent for the 2023 season, two names were missing. Neither Paul Byrd nor Brian Jordan will return. Justin Toscano of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution noted that Byrd’s decision was a personal matter, while the team made efforts to bring Jordan back.
Brian Jordan was part of the team of analysts covering the Braves on TV last year. Byrd was a studio host. He was at the front of a season preview show, which premiered last week.
The Braves have been hit with plenty of other changes this offseason. Chip Caray will be replaced by Brandon Gaudin on play-by-play after Caray decided to leave Atlanta for St. Louis. Also, Tom Glavine returns as a game analyst after taking time away from the team in 2022.
Sports TV News
ESPN Employees Brace For Major Layoffs
“According to Front Office Sports, 700 jobs have been cut, including those of anchors, reporters and analysts, since 2015.”
As the restructuring at Disney continues under CEO Bob Iger, tough decisions regarding people’s careers with the company are being made.
The jobs of 7,000 Disney employees will be eliminated as the company tries to save $5.5 billion in costs.
Stephen A. Smith, on a recent episode of his podcast K[no]w Mercy, said ESPN is not going to escape unscathed.
“ESPN is under the Disney umbrella,” Smith said. “They’re going to have cuts coming.”
ESPN has gone through multiple rounds of layoffs in recent years. According to Front Office Sports, 700 jobs have been cut, including those of anchors, reporters and analysts, since 2015.
Stephen A., who has an annual salary of $13 million, said no one’s job is safe.
“Hell, for all I know, I might be one of them,” Smith said. “Now, I doubt that. But it’s possible. No one knows.”
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He’s a multimedia journalist and communicator who works at the Virginia State Corporation Commission in Richmond. Jordan also contributes occasional coverage of the Washington Capitals for the blog NoVa Caps. His prior media experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly, WRIC-TV 8News and Audacy Richmond. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.
Sports TV News
Steve Rosenberg Out As President of Diamond Sports Group
“John Ourand of Sports Business Journal reports that a memo went out to the company on Monday morning announcing the change.”
A company declaring bankruptcy is never good for the people at the top. Steve Rosenberg is experiencing that right now. He is out as the president of Diamond Sports Group.
John Ourand of Sports Business Journal reports that a memo went out to the company on Monday morning announcing the change. In it, Diamond CEO David Preschlack wrote that CFO David DeVoe will assume Rosenberg’s responsibilities for now.
Steve Rosenberg joined Sinclair in 2020. He replaced Jeff Krolik as the company’s president of local sports.
Last week, Diamond Sports Group filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company intends to work out new deals with the NBA and NHL for its Bally Sports RSNs in hopes that it will remain in tact. Ourand writes that an attempt to do the same with Major League Baseball has not yielded meaningful results as of yet.
“With the recent appointments we have made to the senior leadership team, and the talented staff we have throughout the organization, I am confident in this team’s ability to work together to execute our strategic goals at this time,” Preschlack wrote in his memo.