John Skipper resigned as president of ESPN and co-chairman of the Disney Media Networks. George Bodenheimer, ESPN's president from 1998-2011 and its executive chairman until May 2014, will take over as the acting chairman of the company for the next 90 days to help Disney chairman/CEO Bob Iger find Skipper's replacement.
Skipper said he has struggled with substance addiction.
“I have decided that the most important thing I can do right now is to take care of my problem,” Skipper said. “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.”
Skipper, 61, joined ESPN in 1997 as senior VP and general manager of ESPN The Magazine. He was named to his current job on Jan. 1, 2012.
Skipper singled out Michael Lynton, Bodenheimer and Iger for his career strides. "To my colleagues at ESPN, it has been a privilege,” he said. “I take great pride in your accomplishments and have complete confidence in your collective ability to continue ESPN's success."
"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. With his departure, George Bodenheimer has agreed to serve as Acting Chair of ESPN for the next 90 days to provide interim leadership, help me identify and secure John's successor, and ensure a smooth transition. I am grateful for George's support and look forward to working with him again in this temporary role."
Bodenheimer, 59, was named president of ESPN on Nov. 19, 1998 and continued in the job through the end of 2011. He was then the company's executive chairman after Skipper took over as president of the company.
ESPN did not announce a successor. Key executives who may get consideration include Justin Connolly, executive VP, affiliate sales and marketing; Burke Magnus, executive VP, programming and scheduling; and Connor Schell, executive VP of content.
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Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.