Jason Whitlock Leaving Fox Sports for ESPN

Jason Whitlock

The popular columnist is departing the network just prior to the launch of Fox Sports 1.

Jason Whitlock is departing Fox Sports to return to ESPN, sources confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter

"Jason Whitlock’s agreement is not signed, but we are pleased to be headed toward a multi-platform deal with him," an ESPN spokesperson told THR

 Q&A: Fox Sports 1 Execs Reveal Strategy to Take on ESPN 

The columnist had been writing for Fox Sports since 2006 and hosted his "Real Talk" podcast for Fox Sport Radio. He previously wrote for ESPN's Page 2. The timing of the hire arrives just prior to the Aug. 17 launch of Fox Sports 1, the national sports news network that aims to compete with ESPN. 

USA Today Sports' The Big Lead was first to report the Whitlock news.

"Today is my last day at Fox Sports. I want to thank David Hill and people at Fox for six great years of support. They allowed me to grow," Whitlock wrote on Twitter, also teasing an announcement set for next Tuesday. "And they stood by me during my Jeremy Lin meltdown. I wish Fox Sports 1 a successful launch. Good group of hardworking people deserve success."

While Fox Sports 1 has staffed up with the likes of Regis Philbin and Canada's Sportscentre hosts Jay Onrait and Dan O'Toole, ESPN has been aggressive in enlisting well-known names like FiveThirtyEight statistician Nate Silver and former SportsCenter host Keith Olbermann to bolster its lineup.