ESPN President John Skipper Continues To Lie About His Firing

Three months ago former ESPN president John Skipper abruptly “resigned” from the network citing “substance addiction issues.” Eleven days after that resignation Skipper was out drinking with ESPN’s Dan LeBatard at a popular North Carolina restaurant. When Outkick published those photos I told you that the real reason Skipper was out was because of issues with women that had arisen in the immediate aftermath of the Boston Globe’s story on sexual harassment at ESPN.

Now on the morning that the NCAA tournament was set to begin — meaning this was planned to try and limit the amount of attention it would receive — John Skipper decided to tell his side of the story to ESPN’s own Boswell, James Andrew Miller. Unfortunately, Skipper still isn’t being honest and his answers and explanations make no sense and ring hollow.

First, Skipper claims that he was extorted by a drug dealer who threatened to go public about his use of cocaine. Extortion is a crime. If this were true why didn’t Skipper or Disney report this alleged crime to the police? Especially if, as Skipper says below, he worried about his family’s safety in the wake of the extortion attempt. Yes, I know, using cocaine is illegal, but police would much rather catch a drug dealer than bust someone for private drug use. Extortion is a MUCH bigger crime than private drug use.

Plus, there are recent examples of people in sports and media going straight to police when they faced extortion attempts and keeping their jobs. Surely Skipper is smart enough to have immediately recalled the stories of Rick Pitino at Louisville and David Letterman at CBS when he faced his own extortion attempt. And both of these individuals kept their jobs despite the extortion attempts because they went to authorities.

The single best thing you should do if you face an extortion attempt is go to authorities. And that’s also, incidentally, the exact same advice that Disney CEO Bob Iger should have given when Skipper told him this story. In fact, it’s the same advice that any boss should give any employee when issues of criminality are involved. (This is assuming, of course, that skipper actually told Iger what he says he did. ESPN and Disney both declined comment when they were asked about Skipper’s claims.)

Would Disney really have been able to fire John Skipper if he’d come out and admitted an issue with occasional cocaine use and reported that because of his celebrity status someone who knew he used cocaine on one occasion was now trying to extort him? Especially if, as he alleged in today’s interview, Skipper claims he had legitimate addiction issues? Drug addiction is an illness. There are countless examples of men and women in entertainment industry jobs who have had issues with drugs, received treatment for those drugs, and returned to their prior jobs.

Nothing about this interview makes sense at all. If anything, it just raises way more issues than were already present.

Let’s start with Skipper announcing his substance addiction issue. He says it wasn’t alcohol and then his interviewer, James Andrew Miller, jumps ahead and asks this question:

JAM: Am I safe to assume then that your substance addiction was cocaine?

Skipper: It’d be safe to assume that.

Wow. Is it just me or is that a pretty big leap? Did these two guys just snort a line right before the interview?

Why would you immediately assume cocaine like this?

This reads exactly like what it was, these two guys had an off the record conversation before they had an on the record interview. So this was effectively Miller doing PR work for John Skipper and asking a question he already knew the answer to before he asked.

Okay, well, this cocaine use must have been extensive and severely restricted Skipper’s job performance, right for him to cite a substance addiction issue as the reason he had to retire?

Uh, no.

“JAM: Did your cocaine use ever get in the way of your work?

Skipper: Never. At ESPN I did not use at work, nor with anyone at work, or with anyone I did business with. I never allowed it to interfere with my work, other than a missed plane and a few canceled morning appointments. I’ve never been a daily user. My use over the past two decades has, in fact, been quite infrequent. I judge that I did a very good job and that it did not get in the way of my work. I worked hard, I worked smart. I worked all the time.”

If this is true then why in the world did Skipper resign citing substance addiction issues? He’s specifically saying here that his job performance was “never” impacted and that his use over the past two decades has been “quite infrequent,” and that “it did not get in the way of my work.”

So why in the world did he “resign” and cite “substance addiction issues?”

JAM: Did you resign as president of ESPN?

Skipper: Yes.

JAM: Were you asked to resign by Disney CEO Bob Iger?

Skipper: It was clear to me that I put Bob in an untenable position.

If you’re asked to resign, that’s a firing, not a resignation. Skipper specifically dodges any answer here. And are we really setting the standard that infrequently using cocaine over the past twenty years in the entertainment industry puts your boss “in an untenable position.” If that’s the case then at least half of Hollywood wouldn’t have their jobs tomorrow.

At this point the interview makes it clear that Skipper had no intention of “resigning” until the Friday before he met with John Skipper. What happened on that Thursday afternoon? The Boston Globe released its story on sexual harassment at ESPN. That’s what I was told spurred the extortion attempt by a woman who claimed Skipper had behaved inappropriately. (I was told that woman used to be employed at ESPN, but now was no longer employed there. Skipper, of course, denied that women were involved in his resignation at all, but what do you expect him to say? Of course he’s going to deny it).

Here is Skipper explaining the extortion attempt:

Skipper: They (the extortioners) threatened me, and I understood immediately that threat put me and my family at risk, and this exposure would put my professional life at risk as well. I foreclosed that possibility by disclosing the details to my family, and then when I discussed it with Bob, he and I agreed that I had placed the company in an untenable position and as a result, I should resign.

Again, this makes no sense.

If you felt like your family was at risk, wouldn’t you immediately go to authorities? I would, wouldn’t you?

And if you “foreclosed that possibility by disclosing the details to my family” then what risk were you really under? Wasn’t the absolute worst case scenario that the extortion attempt would go public and you would lose your job? Yet that is exactly what happened here.

None of this makes any sense at all.

So Skipper was extorted by someone about his cocaine use — on one occasion? — and he immediately decided his career was over? Why not go to the police? Why not simply deny it if this person went public with it? Why even tell Disney CEO Bob Iger about this at all?

The truth of the matter is this, John Skipper is lying and this interview made the fact that he is lying even more clear than it was in his initial statement when he “resigned” for “substance addiction issues.”

The fact that Outkick is the only media outlet in the entire country willing to point all of these lies proves just how complicit most in the media have been in helping to cover up the mess that John Skipper left behind at ESPN.

ESPN and John Skipper are still lying.

But what else is new?

Imagine if Roger Goodell was peddling this lying crap, do you think ESPN would let him get away with it? Would anyone else in the sports media? So why are Skipper’s lies being accepted by so many in the same sports media? The media is still protecting John Skipper.

He just keeps lying and the people who should be holding him accountable just keep letting him get away with it.

Written by Clay Travis

OutKick founder, host and author. He's presently banned from appearing on both CNN and ESPN because he’s too honest for both.