ESPN President John Skipper Resigns, Admits Struggle With Substance Addiction

John Skipper
John Skipper attends the ESPN College Football Playoffs Night of Champions at Centennial Hall on January 10, 2015 in Dallas, Texas. Cooper Neill/Getty Images

John Skipper, ESPN’s president and co-chairman of the Disney Media Networks, resigned on Monday, December 18. He has been part of the company since 1997, formerly serving as senior vice president and GM of ESPN The Magazine. In a statement on Monday, Skipper revealed that he had been suffering from substance addiction and that he needed to get help for the problem.

He will be temporarily replaced by George Bodenheimer, who served as president of ESPN from 1998 to 2011 and is stepping in while Disney CEO Bob Iger finds a permanent replacement.

“I have had a wonderful career at the Walt Disney Company and am grateful for the many opportunities and friendships. I owe a debt to many, but most profoundly Michael Lynton, George Bodenheimer and Bob Iger,” Skipper, 61, said in a statement 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. 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.”

John Skipper and George Bodenheimer attend the The Paley Center for Media 2014 Spring Benefit Dinner
John Skipper and George Bodenheimer attend the The Paley Center for Media 2014 Spring Benefit Dinner at 583 Park Avenue on May 28, 2014 in New York City. Laura Cavanaugh/FilmMagic

“I come to this public disclosure with embarrassment, trepidation and a feeling of having let others I care about down,” he continued. “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.”

Iger also released a statement “wishing him well during this challenging time.”

“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,” the head of Disney said. “I am grateful for George’s support and look forward to working with him again in this temporary role.”

Sign up now for the Us Weekly newsletter to get breaking celebrity news, hot pics and more delivered straight to your inbox!