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This report was co-authored by Bobby Burack and Ryan Glasspiegel.
Dan Le Batard and ESPN are discussing a buyout of the remainder of his contract, which has over a year left, sources tell OutKick. ESPN has begun to think about plans for what to do with his radio and TV slots in the event that the buyout is ever formalized.
As we’ve reported, sources say Bart Scott is a name to watch once Le Batard’s radio spot becomes available.
In November, we discussed how Le Batard’s time with ESPN was dwindling.
“The latest straw came last week when Chris Cote, one of Le Batard’s producers and an on-air contributor to the show he co-hosts with Jon “Stugotz” Weiner, was included in the 300 people laid off by ESPN. The network and its parent company Disney have been affected by cord-cutting and the pandemic.
“Le Batard views his tight-knit staff, including Cote, as family. Cote’s father, Greg Cote, is a regular contributor to the show, and wrote about his son’s job loss in the Miami Herald. The elder Cote was a mentor to Le Batard at the Herald, and Le Batard has known the younger Cote since he was a child. In every round of negotiations with ESPN, Le Batard has insisted that his staff be taken care of.
“Whether the layoff of Cote was an aggressive shot at Le Batard or if it was merely unfortunate collateral damage is uncertain. Le Batard has made no secret of his tension with ESPN Radio boss Norby Williamson, who is a unique 3+ decade survivor of ESPN’s corporate politics and who oversees the network’s daytime TV studio content”.
Le Batard ended up rehiring Cote as his personal assistant out of his own pocket.
We have reached out to Le Batard and ESPN for comment. We will update if we hear back.
UPDATE: ESPN and Le Batard officially announced that Le Batard is exiting the company in January, sending the following quotes:
“It was mutually agreed that it was best for both sides to move on to new opportunities and we worked together closely to make that possible,” said Norby Williamson, ESPN executive vice president and executive editor. “We thank Dan for his many years and contributions to ESPN and wish him all the best going forward.”
Le Batard said, “Gracias to ESPN for unleashing Papi and Stugotz upon an unsuspecting America, and for lending its substantive credibility to our careening clown car. Can’t believe Stugotz finally achieved his dream of becoming a high-priced free agent. I’m forever indebted to Erik Rydholm, Matt Kelliher and their vibrant team for providing a creative oasis across a decade, and for expanding the Le Batard family to include so many brilliant colleagues who have become forever friends, bonded eternally by laughter and love. Want to also extend my gratitude to Chuck Salituro, Jimmy Pitaro, Traug Keller, Marcia Keegan, Connor Schell, Juan Diaz, Mike Foss, Amanda Gifford, Liam Chapman, Megan Judge, Elizabeth Fierman, the Hialeah-soaked crew at Imagina …and when did this become a droning acceptance speech instead of a quick goodbye? In short, thank you, Disney and ESPN, for a quarter century of absurd blessings. To our loyal army of concerned fans, and to everyone who walked along and played an instrument in our Marching Band to Nowhere, know that it is a very exciting time for us, not a sad one. And that you’ll be hearing our laughter again soon enough.”
In the lineup change, Mike Greenberg’s radio show will move to 10am ET and Bart Scott and Alan Hahn will host nationally at noon. ESPN says that Highly Questionable will remain on the air with contributors including Elle Duncan, Domonique Foxworth, Israel Gutierrez, Bomani Jones, Mina Kimes, Katie Nolan, Sarah Spain, Pablo Torre and Clinton Yates.