11:53am PT by Ryan Parker
ESPN to Part Ways With Skip Bayless
Skip Bayless is leaving ESPN.
His contract expires in August, but his final appearance on First Take will be when the NBA Finals conclude, likely in June, according to the network.
"We want to thank Skip for his many contributions to ESPN. His hard work and talent have benefited ESPN for 12 years," ESPN said in a statement.
Jamie Horowitz, president of Fox Sports National Networks told Sporting News in March that he wanted more vibrant personalities on the networks, specifically mentioning Bayless.
“I look at these ‘opinionists’ like superstars in the NBA. You can probably name the dozen superstars who are out there. It’s like asking the [Boston] Celtics, ‘Are you interested in Kevin Durant?’ Yes, we’re interested in all the superstars. Of course, I’m interested in Skip," Horowitz told Sporting News. "I’m interested in Stephen A. and Michael [Smith] and Jemele and [Tony] Kornheiser and [Michael] Wilbon. Just like ESPN and Fox were both interested in Colin.”
Horowitz maintains that audiences want more conversation-driven coverage because they can catch the game highlights on their mobile devices.
In the last year, prominent personalities Keith Olbermann, Bill Simmons, Colin Cowherd, Curt Schilling, and Mike Tirico have been fired by or left ESPN.