New ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro is taking the reins ahead of a crucial stretch for the network.
Just this week, there was a report that ESPN’s relationship with the NFL was more fractured now than ever, and there are plenty of other issues to navigate as well. So it’s not really a surprise to hear that former ESPN chairman George Bodenheimer will remain as an adviser for the rest of 2018.
That’s according to this report from John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal:
As Pitaro’s consultant, Bodenheimer will be a sounding board as the new president learns the inner workings and culture around ESPN, which is owned by Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS). At least at the beginning, Bodenheimer will help Pitaro cultivate relationships with prominent sports executives, setting up and attending meetings together.
In December, Bodenheimer stepped in as an acting chairman after John Skipper resigned, citing a substance abuse problem. Bodenheimer served in that capacity for 77 days.
Bodenheimer has certainly been through it all at ESPN, having started at the network in 1981 before serving thirteen years as president, from 1998-2011. After that, he took on the role of chairman, which he maintained until retiring at the start of 2012. His successor, John Skipper, was president until a sudden departure that led to this reshuffling.
The decision to stick around as an advisor to Pitaro is an understandable one; Pitaro’s background is from another Disney division, and simply from a logistical standpoint, having someone with Bodenheimer’s experience to call upon certainly can’t hurt. That Bodenheimer has been back in charge for the past few months as acting chairman also helps.
Given the uncertainty ESPN faced in the wake of Skipper’s resignation, along with the general uncertainty ahead for the industry, it’s vital to nail this next phase. This is a sign they seem to recognize that too.