BRISTOL, CONN.—John Skipper is out as ESPN president and co-chairman of the Disney Media Networks, according to a press release from the sports broadcaster on Monday. Skipper, in the press release, cites his struggle with substance addiction as his primary reason or stepping down.
“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,” Skipper said in the press release.
“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.”
George Bodenheimer, ESPN’s president from 1998-2011 and its executive chairman until May 2014, will take over as acting chairman of the company for the next 90 days as Bob Iger, Disney chairman and CEO, seeks Skipper’s permanent replacement.
“I join John Skipper’s many friends and colleagues across the company in wishing him well during this challenging time,” Iger said in a statement. “I respect his candor and support his decision to focus on his health and his family.”
Skipper came to ESPN in 1997 as senior vice president and general manager of ESPN The Magazine. He took over his role as ESPN president on Jan. 1, 2012.
This is another major change for the sports broadcaster, as the company has made major layoffs in recent years and is currently planning the launch of its own streaming service in 2018. Disney, which owns ESPN, also recently closed a deal with 21st Century Fox for a large portion of its assets, though Fox Sports was not included as part of the deal.