BUSINESS
12/18/2017 11:25 EST | Updated 12/18/2017 12:49 EST

ESPN President John Skipper Resigns Unexpectedly

Skipper cited substance addiction in a statement.

ESPN President and Disney Media Networks Co-Chairman John Skipper resigned Monday, citing a struggle with addiction.

“Today I have resigned from my duties as President of ESPN,” Skipper said in a statement.

“I have struggled for many years with a substance addiction,” he added. “I have decided that the most important thing I can do right now is to take care of my problem.

“I come to this public disclosure with embarrassment, trepidation and a feeling of having let others I care about down.

“To my colleagues at ESPN, it has been a privilege. I take great pride in your accomplishments and have complete confidence in your collective ability to continue ESPN’s success.”

The move seems to have caught ESPN employees off guard.

“Nobody knows anything,” an unidentified ESPN staffer told Sports Illustrated reporter Richard Deitsch. “There is a lot of reckless speculation out there.”

Skipper had held the position since 2012 and earlier this year signed an extension to stay with the network through 2021.

The network has struggled financially of late. In April, it laid off 100 employees, many of whom were well-known names among ESPN’s on-air talent.

It’s also struggled to navigate the increasingly more political aspects of sports, taking on criticism in October when it temporarily suspended “SportsCenter” host Jemele Hill after she shared her political opinions on social media.

Hill took to Twitter Monday to express her admiration for Skipper and thank him for his support.

This story has been updated with additional details about the network.