Jason Whitlock Returns to Fox Sports
The move comes four months after ESPN removed him as editor-in-chief of its “black Grantland” stand-alone site, The Undefeated.
After two years at ESPN, Jason Whitlock has returned to Fox Sports, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
The outspoken and often controversial columnist and on-air personality moved to ESPN in 2013 in part to launch a stand-alone site called The Undefeated, which the network envisioned as Grantland-type portal that would examine sports and pop culture through the lens of race. After The Undefeated’s subsequent rocky launch and behind-the-scenes drama was extensively chronicled by Deadspin, which popularized the moniker "black Grantland," ESPN eventually removed Whitlock as editor-in-chief in June, although a network statement at the time insisted he would continue to “make significant contributions to multiple ESPN entities and programs.”
Instead, Whitlock has returned to rival network Fox Sports, which employed him from 2007 to 2013 and on Tuesday night launched J.school, a blog exclusively dedicated to his daily posts. In its lengthy first two columns, Whitlock has begun a detailed “push back against any false narrative by Deadspin’s gang of angry white hipsters, its token black mascot and the writers piggybacking Deadspin’s narrative while avoiding he said-she said.” He also appeared live on The Herd with Colin Cowherd on Wednesday afternoon to further tout his move and dig his former employer: “I feel like Jason Whitlock today … I feel free to be me and not persecuted for being me.” (For his part, Cowherd had been with ESPN for more than a decade before departing for Fox Sports in July. And most prominently, longtime media personality and Grantland founder Bill Simmons signed with HBO after ESPN declined to renew his contract in May.)
In addition to J.school, Whitlock will also host a podcast and serve as a prominent contributor for a new Fox Sports 1 show that is expected to launch in the first quarter of next year. “Jason Whitlock has been a prominent voice covering all areas of our culture with thought-provoking commentary for 25 years,” said Fox Sports president of national networks Jamie Horowitz in a statement. “At FS1, we are consistently looking for people with perspectives who are independent, original and fearless. Jason’s columns, podcasts and work on PTI have offered fans new ways to look at the sports world."
Whitlock became the only sportswriter to win The Scripps Howard Foundation’s National Journalism Award for commentary in 2008, during his first tenure at Fox Sports. His career also includes another, earlier stint at ESPN (from 2000 to 2006) and bylines in Playboy, Vibe and The Sporting News, although he first made his name in sports journalism as The Kansas City Star’s general-interest sports columnist from 1994 to 2007. Today, the Ball State graduate resides in Los Angeles.
Oct. 14, 4:24 p.m. Edited to correct information on Whitlock's current city of residence.