John Skipper is stepping down from his role as president of ESPN, citing a substance addiction problem as his reason for leaving.
Skipper, a 1978 graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill and a 2012 N.C. Journalism Hall of Fame inductee, announced his resignation in a release on Monday.
“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,” he said.
Former ESPN President and Executive Chairman George Bodenheimer will overseeing the transition process serving as acting chair of the company for the next 90 days. Bodenheimer previously worked at ESPN from 1981-2014.
In a statement, Skipper said it has been his “privilege” to work for ESPN and its parent company, Walt Disney.
“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 said. “I take great pride in your accomplishments and have complete confidence in your collective ability to continue ESPN’s success.”
A Lexington, N.C., native, Skipper started at ESPN in 1997.
He received a bachelor’s degree in English literature from UNC-Chapel Hill and a master's degree in English literature from Columbia University.
At ESPN, Skipper advanced multiple long-term, multiplatform agreements for the cable television channel – markedly expanding its content. He helped to secure contractual agreements with “major rights holders” like the NBA, Major League Baseball, College Football Playoff, US Open tennis and the Rose, Sugar and Orange Bowls.
“I join John Skipper’s many friends and colleagues across the company in wishing him well during this challenging time. I respect his candor and support his decision to focus on his health and his family,” Chairman and CEO of the Walt Disney Company Bob Iger. “I am grateful for George’s (Bodenheimer's) support and look forward to working with him again in this temporary role.”
Prior to being named ESPN’s president, Skipper was hired as the cable channel’s executive vice president.