ESPN’s President “Resigns” For “Substance Abuse Issues”

This morning ESPN announced that John Skipper, who has been the network president since 2012, is “resigning” because of “substance abuse issues.” The resignation comes just four days after the announcement of Disney’s purchase of substantial Fox assets and five days after Skipper addressed all the talent at ESPN in a meeting in Bristol, Connecticut.

It also comes two months after Skipper told all of his Los Angeles employees in a private meeting that I was “spreading misinformation designed to destroy ESPN.”

(Are we noticing a theme here, by the way? Everyone who attacks me loses and I keep winning? The message? Surrender when I step to you or you will end up Nedd Starked.)

The “resignation” also comes just over a month after ESPN made a big deal about Skipper signing a contract extension that was to keep him in charge of ESPN until the end of 2021. It also comes a few months after Skipper instructed ESPN PR to listen to my Outkick radio show and count the number of times I said boobs on air, and just a couple of weeks after the network banned Britt McHenry from appearing on my radio show. As if that weren’t enough, ESPN, which had already banned me from appearing on its network, also recently refused to allow me to appear in TV commercials on its network for The Home Loan Expert. (Which, by the way, you should definitely contact to get the best possible mortgage rate anywhere in the country. And, yes, I really did just use an article about the collapse of one of my biggest foes to advertise. That’s Outkick, baby.)

Also, and this is key, it comes on the Monday morning before Christmas. Why do you have to announce this on a Monday morning if time isn’t of the essence and a story isn’t coming? Why not wait until Friday afternoon when everyone is leaving for the long holiday weekend?

But all of this is just prelude to this conclusion that anyone with a brain will reach — Skipper suddenly resigning and citing substance addiction makes zero sense.

The timing, at least to anyone with a shred of common sense, suggests something substantial happened behind the scenes in the past several days and something more is coming.

Meaning this excuse is complete and total bullshit.

Now most people in media won’t point out what complete and total bullshit this excuse is because they are afraid of being accused of not taking addiction seriously. (That’s not a problem here though because I’m on the record as hating addiction more than anyone else on the planet. I also hate cancer, death and racism more than anyone else on the planet too, by the way.) So ESPN is hoping no one asks questions here and let’s Skipper just disappear. And for most media that will be true.

But not here.

So what happened? If I had to guess I’d surmise it was something to do with sexual harassment or an internal investigation that discovered some inappropriate behavior on Skipper’s part. (Inappropriate behavior that can be blamed on substance abuse). We have lots of sources at ESPN, but for those of you who might be new to Outkick we offer full anonymity to anyone who wants to share the complete story. Email me at

This hypothesis makes even more sense when you consider the Boston Globe story that came out last week. Did ESPN’s forceful response against sexual harassment allegations in that story cause other women to come forward? How many nondisclosure agreements do you think John Skipper has signed during his tenure at ESPN? My guess is there is a major blockbuster story coming and this is ESPN’s attempt to beat that story to the punch and blame Skipper for everything.

Regardless, here’s John Skipper’s statement about his “resignation.” (I added the italics below).

“I have struggled for many years with a substance addiction. I have decided that the most important thing I can do right now is to take care of my problem.

I have disclosed that decision to the company, and we mutually agreed that it was appropriate that I resign. I will always appreciate the human understanding and warmth that Bob displayed here and always.

I come to this public disclosure with embarrassment, trepidation and a feeling of having let others I care about down.

As I deal with this issue and what it means to me and my family, I ask for appropriate privacy and a little understanding.

To my colleagues at ESPN, it has been a privilege. I take great pride in your accomplishments and have complete confidence in your collective ability to continue ESPN’s success.”

Why did you mutually agree that it was appropriate that you resign? Especially, again, after you just agreed to a much ballyhooed four year contract extension a month ago? And five days after you addressed the entire company’s talent in Bristol? And four days after the purchase of substantial Fox assets by Disney? Again, nonsensical. (Unless one of the Murdoch sons is going to take over ESPN and this was a quid pro quo as part of the Disney-Fox deal.)

That “mutual” agreement only happens when you did something inappropriate and the company wants you to leave. This isn’t a resignation, it’s a firing, maybe accompanied by a payout.

Otherwise why couldn’t Skipper have just taken a six month leave of absence to get well like the head of another major Disney asset, Pixar’s John Lasseter, just did? If Skipper truly has an addiction issue, isn’t Disney being total assholes by firing him for trying to get help with that issue and not standing behind him? Of course they would be, which is why that isn’t happening.

The easy read here is that Skipper got caught doing something inappropriate and he’s going to blame substance abuse for his error in judgment when that story eventually goes public.

Stay tuned, this story’s not over.

In the meantime, the prior president of ESPN will take over for ninety days as ESPN searches for a new president of the network.

Let me also get ahead of this story on my end before the rumors start — I will not accept and will not seek the presidency of ESPN. And I will not serve if offered.

Even though I’m probably the only person in America who can save the company from itself.

ESPN’s the Titanic and they just tossed their captain, ironically enough named Skipper, into the icy cold waters.

Also, in the event anyone ever accuses me of anything inappropriate, I am gay and have substance abuse issues too.


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.