ESPN saw a seismic shift on Monday after the president, John Skipper, resigned citing an alcohol-abuse problem. But the Skipper is just one of the many prominent figures to be sidelined in the colorful history of ESPN.
In the past few months, and even years, the sports network is plagued with all kinds of drama, ranging from sexual harassment claims poor PR choices.
Here is a list of some of the most shocking ESPN controversy.
The recently departed president, in a statement on Dec. 18 says he struggled for years with addiction and had decided that “the most important thing” he could do now is to take care of his problem. “I come to this public announcement of shame, embarrassment and a feeling that I leave with others about the care down,” he said. “If I have to deal with this issue and what it means for me and my family, I ask for appropriate privacy and a bit of understanding.” Former ESPN President George Bodenheimer will replace Skipper for the next 90 days until they find a permanent replacement. Skipper began his tenure as president and in 2012, started the company in 1997.
The “Sports Center” host came under fire in September 2017 for tweeting inflammatory messages about President Trump. In one she referred to Trump as a “white supremacist, who has largely surrounded himself w/ other white racists”, while in another she said: “Trump is the most ignorant, insulting, president of my life. His rise is a direct result of white supremacy. Period.” ESPN quickly did damage control to write, that Hill’s comments were not a reflection of the network the position and that they have the issue with Hill, who “regrets” her statements. Cut to October 2017 when Hill weighed in on the Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones to say that if a player disrespects the flag, he will not play. The TV personality took her opinions on Twitter once again, writing, “Jerry Jones has created a problem for his players, especially the black. If they do not kneel, which see them as sellouts.” ESPN suspended her for two weeks for a second violation of our social media guidelines.”
Berman was accused by the former ESPN make-up artist Sue Baumann of making unwanted sexual advances toward her in 2015 via sms. She filed a complaint of sexual harassment against the company which was settled. However, a statement from ESPN said of the settlement at the Big Lead, “it is Our thorough investigation revealed the harassment claims had no merit,” said ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz. “We settled solely to save a considerable amount of time and litigation costs.” Berman was ousted as the lead NFL broadcaster for ESPN in January 2017, but still acts as a contribution to the network.
ESPN made a regrettable decision to remove sports announcer Robert Lee of the coverage of the University of Virginia game in August, because the reporter shared the same name as the Associated Gene. Robert E. Lee. The network said that it is trying to be sensitive in the light of the recent tragic events in Charlottesville . A statement from ESPN tried to explain her decision, saying: “We jointly made the decision to with Robert to switch to play as the tragic events in Charlottesville were to unfold, simply because of the coincidence of his name. At that moment, it felt good for all parties. It is a shame that this is even a topic of conversation and we regret that the calls play-by-play for a football game has become a problem.” People took to social media to express their displeasure, writing, “No Joke. #ESPN drew an Asian American announcer, because his name is #RobertLee…Madness!” While another chimed in, “So @espn pulled announcer from the cover, because his name was Robert Lee. Robert Lee is an Asian American with no ties to the confederation.”
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The former Jets sideline reporter claimed she was in an unprofessional and hostile work situation when she had to go to a strip club with ESPN employees. Sterger wrote an explosive Twitter message which read in part, “I was very uncomfortable by the situation and [felt] incredibly awkward as I had never stepped foot in before. I had to watch as my male colleagues got lap dances from the girls, while she teased me about how I was uncomfortable and not want to participate.” The 23-year-old claimed that she was “warned” by her two bosses for the incident and fired before her plane landed in Tampa. In addition, the former Playboy model claimed an ESPN executive acted unlawfully towards her. She said the following about the incident: “It was a very long and uncomfortable drive. He brought lots of girls who he said he was hooking up with who worked at the time. And implied that he is helping their career. I reminded him I was in a relationship with someone who he knew, but he insisted.” ESPN focused Sterger claims. “We have no record of this ever brought to our attention. We thoroughly investigate all allegations brought to us. Promote a professional and respectful work environment is a top priority for ESPN, and we encourage people to bring any problems.”
The former ESPN reporter was the victim of an obsessed stalker, Michael David Barrett, filmed Andrews in her hotel room without her knowledge in July 2009. Own videos of Andrews were released on the internet. Andrews claimed her then bosses at ESPN forced her to go on GMA to the leaked video. “My bosses at ESPN said to me: “Before you go back in the air for college football we need you to have a sit-down interview.” And that was the only way I would be allowed back.” The “Dancing with the Stars” co-host sued Barrett, Marriott International and Radisson Hotels for $75 million, she won $55 million in 2016, after the end of the trial. Barrett was sentenced to 30 months in prison.
The former MLB player and ESPN personality, was fired after he wrote an anti-transgender meme on Facebook in April 2016, which read, “a man is a man, no matter what they call themselves. I don’t care what they are, who they sleep with men the room is designed for the penis, the wife not so much. Now you need laws to tell us otherwise? Pathetic.” He got his walking papers from ESPN. The company in a statement, “ESPN is an inclusive company. Curt Schilling is pointed out that his behaviour was unacceptable and his work with ESPN has ended.” Schilling responded to the comment on his personal blog with a post with the title “The hunt to be offended,” who said in part, “I am loud, I talk too much, I think I know more than I, and a billion other problems I know I have. As everyone of you, I have errors, but I’m ok with my flaws, they’re what make me, me. I thank the Lord for the life that I have been given. A life interspersed, and occupied by men and women who are gay, by people of all races and religions, by men and women who are dressed as the other, by men and women who have changed to women and men.”
Rumors are rampant that the millions of dollars corporation can lay off more than 100 employees this month. According to Sports Illustrated, the layoffs “will hit positions at ESPN, including a front-facing talent on the television side, producers, managers, and digital and technology staff. The gym franchise is expected to be hit hard — including on-air people — given the frequency of the tone has reduced significantly on the main network ESPN.” The network let go of an estimated 300 employees in October 2015 and the last in April about 100-camera personalities and hosts are fired.