Sports

ESPN president steps down to deal with his ‘substance addiction’

John Skipper gestured as he talks about the new ACC/ESPN Network during a news conference on July 21, 2016.
John Skipper gestured as he talks about the new ACC/ESPN Network during a news conference on July 21, 2016. The Associated Press

ESPN president John Skipper announced Monday that he was resigning because of a personal issue.

“I have struggled for many years with a substance addiction,” Skipper said in a statement released by ESPN. “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 (Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive of The Walt Disney Company) displayed here and always.”

ESPN announced that former network president George Bodenheimer will be “Acting Chair” of the company for the next 90 days, overseeing the transition process. Bodenheimer had worked at ESPN from 1981-2014.

“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, 61, has been ESPN president and the co-chairman of the Disney Media Networks since Jan. 1, 2012. ESPN said he joined the company in 1997 as senior vice president and general manager of ESPN The Magazine.

“I come to this public disclosure with embarrassment, trepidation and a feeling of having let others I care about down,” Skipper said in the statement.

“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.”

Pete Grathoff: 816-234-4330, @pgrathoff

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