ESPN is restructuring to save money. And in doing so, they’re reportedly letting go of 20 on-air personalities, including Jalen Rose, Keyshawn Johnson, Max Kellerman, and Jeff Van Gundy.
The network has struggled with a number of controversies in the last few years including trying out former His & Hers stars Jemele Hill and Micheal Smith on SC6, a more issues-oriented Sportscenter, which flopped. Hill departed the network after comments she made about President Donald Trump went viral and she was made to publicly apologize.
ESPN also parted ways with Rachel Nichols, the one-time host of the NBA show The Jump when she was caught on a hot mic seemingly disparaging former ESPN host Maria Taylor while in the midst of contract negotiations. Taylor departed for NBC, and Nichols’ show was canceled. Nichols is now at Showtime, as is former ESPN host Cari Champion. Champion alleged the network didn’t allow her to grow due to microaggressions and more.
Sage Steele, who remains at the network, is suing ESPN, saying among other things, that they didn’t allow her certain high-profile assignments when colleagues objected to her conservative leanings. She was left out of a documentary on race by her coworkers and suspended over her comments on COVID and Barack Obama on former NFL star Jay Cutler’s podcast. She sued on free speech grounds and ESPN reportedly offered her $500K to settle the case. Her attorneys refused the offer and a trial is expected to begin next March.
Rose, a popular ESPN personality has been with the network in multiple roles since his retirement in 2007. His Jalen and Jacoby podcast with David Jacoby ended in 2022.
In a statement, ESPN acknowledged the moves were largely due to cost-cutting large salaries commanded by the personalities. Though they didn’t say it explicitly, ESPN has been battered by cord-cutting viewers and the domination of podcasting and the number of YouTube channels, sports personalities with their own platforms and even Netflix documentaries that now cover sports as comprehensively as they do.
“This exercise will include a small group of job cuts in the short-term and an ongoing focus on managing costs when we negotiate individual contract renewals in the months ahead. This is an extremely challenging process, involving individuals who have had tremendous impact on our company. These difficult decisions, based more on overall efficiency than merit, will help us meet our financial targets and ensure future growth.”
Jalen Rose & Max Kellerman Among 20 High-Profile Personalities Laid Off By ESPN, Twitter Reacts was originally published on cassiuslife.com