ESPN’s Skipper steps down, Bodenheimer to fill in

ESPN President John Skipper
John Skipper (ESPN)

John Skipper, president of ESPN and co-chairman of the Disney Media Networks, announced on Monday that he is resigning.

Former ESPN president George Bodenheimer will fill in as acting chairman for 90 days in order to help Disney CEO Bob Iger find a replacement, according to ESPN.

Skipper confirmed the move in a statement and said that he is leaving ESPN in order to address a substance abuse issue.

"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,” said Skipper in a statement. "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.”

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Skipper’s departure comes as somewhat of a surprise, as only one month ago Disney announced that it had extended his employment contract through 2021. Skipper took over as president of ESPN in 2012 and has been with the company since 1997.

Bodenheimer originally left his role as chairman back in 2014 and spending more than 33 years with the company.

"I have been proud to represent the men and women of ESPN," said Bodenheimer in a note to colleagues. "Every day I was asked questions about the future, and my favorite answer was, 'ESPN has the best employees in the business. They know what the mission of the company is, and together we will figure it out. … I have great faith that it will always be true.'"

Skipper is leaving ESPN as the network is nearing the early 2018 launch date for its direct-to-consumer streaming service, ESPN+. ESPN could also undergo more substantial shifts as Disney prepares for its $52 billion purchase of a large part of 21st Century Fox, including the company’s regional sports networks, which could greatly expand ESPN’s regional sports coverage.