Three more big names have been added to ESPN’s ongoing layoffs. Friday’s layoffs, expected to impact around 20 on-air figures overall, started with reporting of the network parting ways with NBA game analyst Jeff Van Gundy and NBA studio analyst Jalen Rose. They’ve now gone on to long-time college basketball analyst LaPhonso Ellis, regular studio and radio host Max Kellerman, and NFL/radio host/analyst Keyshawn Johnson, as reported by Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports and Andrew Marchand of The New York Post:
NEWS: LaPhonso Ellis has been laid off by ESPN, according to a source with knowledge of the decision.
— Front Office Sports (@FOS) June 30, 2023
NEWS: ESPN has let go Max Kellerman and Keyshawn Johnson, The Post has learned.https://t.co/VkxbmHlrU6
— Andrew Marchand (@AndrewMarchand) June 30, 2023
Kellerman and Johnson had been discussed for some time as potential targets here. Kellerman’s This Just In daily show looks set to be replaced by new hire Pat McAfee (one of the many times Kellerman has been replaced at ESPN). And the Keyshawn, JWill and Max ESPN Radio morning show those two (and Jay Williams, also talked about as a target here given his expiring contract) had been hosting since September 2021 had been cited as potentially facing change (amidst wider ESPN Radio changes and challenges) after it was taken off ESPN New York in January in favor of expanding local show DiPietro & Rothenberg. Ellis’ departure seems a little more surprising, as he hadn’t been heavily mentioned in pieces on these upcoming layoffs.
In all of these cases, it’s notable to see the departure of those prominent and long-time ESPN faces. Kellerman had been working for ESPN off and on since joining their boxing coverage in the 1990s, while Johnson started ESPN work in 2007, worked for them nationally through 2016, and then came back as an ESPN LA figure who then again became a national figure on NFL Live and ESPN Radio. And just last year, he signed a five-year deal with the network worth around $18 million (which he’ll still get, barring any offsets from negotiated early ends to any non-compete provisions). Meanwhile, Ellis had been a college basketball analyst for ESPN since 2009, and joined their basketball version of College GameDay in 2019.We’ll see what’s next for all of these media figures (Marchand mentions in particular that Johnson could be considered for the Undisputed chair at Fox Shannon Sharpe just vacated), and what’s ahead for ESPN in terms of replacing them.