The sudden resignation of John Skipper as President of ESPN took many by surprise. Throughout his tenure as top executive of ESPN, Skipper had the confidence of Disney CEO Bob Iger and had big victories like bringing Monday Night Football to cable, signing the NBA to multiple long-term deals, and bolstering the network’s soccer covering by adding the 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cups.
But Skipper also had some tumultuous times during his tenure with ESPN, including mass layoffs, battles with Bill Simmons and Jemele Hill, riding the turbulent social media waters, canceling Barstool Van Talk after one episode, and occasional battles with the NFL.
However, Disney was high enough on Skipper that he recently signed a new contract that was going to keep him at the helm of the Worldwide Leader into the next decade. Let’s take a look at some of Skipper’s career highlights and lowlights at ESPN:
- In June, Skipper joins ESPN as senior vice president and general manager of ESPN The Magazine.
- ESPN The Magazine is honored with a National Award for design.
- Skipper adds oversight of ESPN.com to his ESPN The Magazine duties.
- Skipper is promoted to executive vice president of ESPN.
- Becomes executive vice president of content.
- Leads the way for ESPN to gain the rights to Monday Night Football, bringing the franchise to cable after being on ABC since 1970. The deal costs an estimated $1 billion annually.
- Negotiates a deal with FIFA to air the 2010 and 2014 World Cups, wrestling the rights away from NBCUniversal (which had a handshake agreement with FIFA).
- Agrees to a 15-year, $2 billion deal with the SEC, which gave ESPN rights to the conference’s home football and basketball games that weren’t on CBS.
- Helped negotiate a 12-year, $2.7 billion contract for the Pac-12 and ESPN.
- Spearheads the creation of Grantland, a site led by Bill Simmons.
- Replaces George Bodenheimer as President of ESPN and Co-Chairman of Disney Media Networks.
- Helps to negotiate a new 20-year contract with the SEC that creates the ESPN-run SEC Network, which would launch in 2014.
- Squashes ESPN’s involvement with the PBS Frontline documentary League of Denial, claiming that it didn’t meet the network’s standards. The move brings speculation that the NFL influenced ESPN to pull out.
- Signs a deal with the NFL for Monday Night Football or an estimated $2 billion annually that also gave ESPN its first foray into the league’s postseason with one wild card playoff game a year.
- Suspends Bill Simmons for three weeks over comments he made about NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
- Announces the creation of The Undefeated, with Jason Whitlock as editor-in-chief.
- Extends ESPN’s deal with the NBA through the 2024-25 season for an estimated $2.66 billion annually.
- Signs a new deal to remain ESPN president through 2018.
- Bill Simmons leaves ESPN.
- Skipper announces that Grantland would cease operation.
- Jason Whitlock is removed from The Undefeated, and Kevin Merida is eventually announced as his replacement.
- Announces a new 20-year deal with the Atlantic Coast Conference that will also result in the creation of the ACC Network in 2019.
- Suspends Jemele Hill for negative tweets about boycotting Cowboys’ sponsors, a month after Hill’s negative tweets about President Trump.
- Cancels Barstool Van Talk after one episode.
- Signs an extension that will keep him as ESPN president through 2021.
- Resigns due to substance addiction on December 18th.