Sage Steele has settled her lawsuit with ESPN/Disney and is now leaving the network. She announced the news Tuesday morning on Twitter.
“Having successfully settled my case with ESPN/Disney, I have decided to leave so I can exercise my first amendment rights more freely,” Steele tweeted. “I am grateful for so many wonderful experiences over the past 16 years and am excited for my next chapter!”
Having successfully settled my case with ESPN/Disney, I have decided to leave so I can exercise my first amendment rights more freely. I am grateful for so many wonderful experiences over the past 16 years and am excited for my next chapter!#SteeleStrong
— Sage Steele (@sagesteele) August 15, 2023
No timetable for her departure was announced.
Richard Deitsch of The Athletic shared a statement from ESPN that said, “ESPN and Sage Steele have mutually agreed to part ways. We thank her for her many contributions over the years.”
News of Steele’s settlement comes just weeks after she rejected a $501,000 settlement by ESPN. The 50-year-old Steele sued the network in April 2022 for allegedly violating her free speech rights. The network removed her from the air for one week in 2021 after her controversial comments on a podcast in which she criticized ESPN’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate and questioned former President Barack Obama’s decision to call himself black. ESPN parent company Disney was also named in the suit.
ESPN denied Steele had been suspended, and she apologized for her comments at the time, saying, “I know my recent comments created controversy for the company, and I apologize.”
However, the SportsCenter anchor alleged in her suit she was forced to apologize “under threat of termination.”
Steele had quickly rejected the recent settlement offer from ESPN to cover her legal fees.
“Disney cannot purchase their employee’s constitutional rights no matter how powerful they think they are,” Steele’s attorney, Bryan Freedman said in rejecting the offer.
Steele joined ESPN and SportsCenter in 2007. She served as the host of NBA Countdown on ESPN and ABC from the 2013-14 season through 2017. In her time at ESPN she has hosted both the SportsCenter: AM and SportsCenter 6 p.m. (ET) editions before joining the noon SportsCenter in 2021.
Michelle Steele (no relation) has been handling noon SportsCenter co-hosting duties with Matt Barrie for more than two weeks. Sage Steele’s last appearance was July 27th.