john skipper-espn

As the fallout from John Skipper’s sudden resignation widens, we’re finding out a bit more about the days leading up to his surprising decision. Skipper resigned as President of ESPN earlier this week citing a substance addition. But before D-Day occurred, there reportedly wasn’t any clue or hint that Skipper was about to step down.

John Ourand of Sports Business Daily chronicled Skipper’s week before the resignation, describing a man who was not showing any sign that he was about to leave. Remember, he had just signed a new contract that would keep him as president through 2021.

Skipper told the Sports Video Group 2017 Summit on December 12 that ESPN’s audience was bigger than ever and that the Worldwide Leader had no problem in affording its current NBA deal.

The following day, Skipper was at a summit of on-air talent. It was there where employees were cautioned about making political statements. He also told the employees that ESPN’s brand was strong and that despite negative stories in 2017, the network was in good shape. According to Sports Business Daily, Skipper attended a party following the event and was one of the last to leave.

On Thursday, December 14, Skipper was at a MLS Board of Directors meeting where he was optimistic about the league’s future as well as its partnership with ESPN.

The next day, Skipper was in meetings in New York and was supposed to head to Philadelphia for the Oklahoma City-76ers game, but did not attend. Sources told SBD that it was normal for Skipper to cancel at the last minute. But it’s not known where Skipper went on Friday night.

Then on Monday, December 18, Skipper spent the time before his resignation was made public calling various people that he was going to step down.

On Tuesday, December 19, former ESPN President George Bodenheimer who would take over for Skipper on an interim basis held a staff meeting telling them to continue to conduct their business as normal and not focus on what happened but on the future.

It’s going to be an interesting transition as to who will replace Skipper and how this will all play out. But in the meantime, looking back at his last seven days as president, there seems to have been no evidence that Skipper was about to resign.

Make sure to read Ourand’s full account of Skipper’s final week at Sports Business Daily.

[Sports Business Daily]

About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013.

He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television.

Fang celebrates the three Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.

  • BobLee Says

    A bit hard to believe that Disney brass were not aware. Corporate Execs at Skipper level are usually required to have regular comprehensive physicals that would certainly reveal “a long time substance abuse issue”. Avoiding this sort of upheaval is why they require that. Disney stockholders should have some tough questions for Iger …

  • John Lee

    Good for Ourand to push this out to show that there’s something much more to this story. Pro-ESPN forces are already utilizing mass media to frame the narrative favorable to Skipper and ESPN through SI’s Richard Dietsch’s podcast and James Andrew Miller. Pushing hard to bury the story and coming up with settlement money to quiet the victims….

    • guestwho2

      Dietsch is the Glenn Thrush of ESPN/Disney even if he works for the nominal competition.

    • 66pugs99

      Why aren’t people calling out stupid takes like this here? This site has some great intelligent articles like this one, showing this came out of nowhere, but somehow ends up with low end comments like this which makes no sense at all. It’s too bad, because there could be some actual decent discussion on this topic, as it really is interesting how this went down.

  • MrBeepo

    Paying Mike Greenberg over 6 million a year should have been an indication that the man was on drugs.

  • Rock Lancaster

    When I first heard it, I immediately assumed that substance abuse was just a plausible cover for why he was really pressured to resign.

    • 66pugs99

      You wouldn’t pick substance abuse for an excuse. My God. That makes zero sense as it hurts his future employment. He could just say he has to take time off for his family, and that things had taken a personal toll, if he was forced to resign. That has to be one of the worst takes I’ve heard in a while.

      • Matt Sikorski

        I guess women aren’t capable of lying about rape/sexual assault either, right?

        If he actually had a drug problem, many employers would give him time off to rehab and get right, particularly someone in such a prominent position in the company. And why aren’t we getting any specifics on which “substance” that he’s “addicted” to? This whole thing smells.

        • 66pugs99

          “I guess women aren’t capable of lying about rape/sexual assault either, right”

          What the heck does that have to do with anything in the context of my comment. Wow, that just makes you look really bad.

  • 66pugs99

    Great article on how the pressure of the job must have made something go pop on the week-end where Skipper would take this drastic a measure. He really couldn’t “take leave” as ESPN is at such a crossroads, it would actually be much more of a problem then it already is. The fact that there is no reports about anything he did behind the scenes means he must have lived a real double life, that made things much worse in covering it up. It’ll be interesting to see what this story actually is five years from now, as if there was something big, it would have come out by now.

    • Matt Sikorski

      Sure thing, Captain Gullible.

      • 66pugs99

        Thank you Mr. Everything is a conspiracy, conspiracy theorist.

  • sportsfan365

    What a bunch of BS. Substance abuse is just a cover story. In today’s world admitting a drug problem is viewed as admirable, thus it became the least shameful cover, but it doesn’t pass the smell test. It is more likely someone was getting ready to blow the lid off something in his personal life, as he is known to be a somewhat different individual.