“I have struggled for many years with a substance addiction,” Skipper said in a statement. “I have decided that the most important thing I can do right now is to take care of my problem.”
George Bodenheimer will serve as acting chairman while Disney, ESPN’s parent company, searches for a replacement. Skipper’s resignation was a move that shocked the media world, not least of all Skipper’s own employees, many of whom took to social media to applaud his past work and to support him in his decision to focus on his battle with substance abuse.
“SC6” co-host Jemele Hill wrote on Twitter, “John Skipper is one of the finest people I’ve ever worked for. He’s been incredibly supportive throughout my career at ESPN. This isn’t company-speak. I seriously cannot express how much respect I have for him.”
John Skipper is one of the finest people I’ve ever worked for. He’s been incredibly supportive throughout my career at ESPN. This isn’t company-speak. I seriously cannot express how much respect I have for him.
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) December 18, 2017
“I am truly saddened by this,” wrote ESPN reporter Michele Steele. “All and only the best to John and his family as he takes on this challenge – one that so many deal with in silence.”
I am truly saddened by this – all and only the best to John and his family as he takes on this challenge – one that so many deal with in silence. https://t.co/lQ5N9799ou
— Michele Steele (@ESPNMichele) December 18, 2017
ESPN anchor Lisa Kerney tweeted that she was “shocked and saddened” by Skipper’s departure, adding that he “always made time for me and made sure my voice was heard.” “A man I truly respect and admire in this industry and as a person,” she said.
Shocked and saddened to lose our leader who always made time for me and made sure my voice was heard. A man I truly respect and admire in this industry and as a person. Always enjoyed talking hoops. My best to John and his family as they navigate this difficult time. https://t.co/SRfcEEFV1X
— Lisa Kerney (@LisaKerney) December 18, 2017
Other media figures, including those who used to work at ESPN, also sent well-wishes to Skipper. Keith Olbermann, who left ESPN in 2015, wrote that he was “literally shaking learning he was in such place.” “This is devastating news about John Skipper,” he tweeted. “I enjoyed working with him as much as anybody I’ve ever known and our friendship has continued.”
This is devastating news about John Skipper. I enjoyed working with him as much as anybody I’ve ever known and our friendship has continued. He’s been innovative and broadminded and I’m literally shaking learning he was in such place. I pray he gets the help and healing he needs.
— Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) December 18, 2017
See more reactions from ESPN staffers and other media figures below.
I wish my boss the best in his battle / always treated me fairly/ most important situation is for him to get back mentally strong & get the care needed to solve his his prob . @espn @jksports https://t.co/rqR0wPPoRn
— Dick Vitale (@DickieV) December 18, 2017
John Skipper is my friend and one of my heroes. I wish him and his family all the best.
— Don Van Natta Jr. (@DVNJr) December 18, 2017
Can't even imagine the courage it took to face addiction so publicly. Wishing John Skipper the strength he will need to face it.
— Jane McManus (@janesports) December 18, 2017
I don't know John Skipper's situation, but in general: so many people with addiction struggles would seek treatment more readily – and it'd be more available – if society treated it as what it is (a health issue) rather than a criminal or moral one: https://t.co/3DET35jDP9
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) December 18, 2017
Slam ESPN and Skipper's leadership all you want, but don't slam him for his substance abuse addition.
I admire John Skipper for acknowledging he needed help to take care of his addition.
I wish John Skipper the best in his road to recovery. https://t.co/ct6DTOvQJG
— Chris Yandle, Ph.D. 😷 (@ChrisYandle) December 18, 2017
2 years ago my dad died right before the NBA finals. He was my hero. My mom insisted he would want me to do my job. So I did. At game 1, John Skipper asked me "are we doing all we can for you?" That's the kind of man he is. I wish him the best as he conquers this challenge.
— stan verrett (@stanverrett) December 18, 2017
— J.A. Adande (@jadande) December 18, 2017
John Skipper's commitment to diversity & inclusion at ESPN has been not only inspiring, but comforting to those of us who want to believe things are headed in the right direction. Deeply saddened to hear of his resignation.
— Sarah Spain (@SarahSpain) December 18, 2017
My thoughts and heart are with John Skipper at this moment-who I owe so much to & who I left every personal encounter with in admiration- & all those struggling with addiction. Imagine the courage it takes for anyone to face it, especially so publicly. And this is where we…
— Tony Reali (@TonyReali) December 18, 2017
— james andrew miller (@JimMiller) December 18, 2017