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ESPN President John Skipper resigns to deal with substance addiction

(Reuters) – Walt Disney Co’s John Skipper on Monday resigned from his role as ESPN president and co-chairman of the Disney Media Networks, citing substance addiction problem.

“I have struggled for many years with a substance addiction. I have decided that the most important thing I can do right now is to take care of my problem,” Skipper said in a statement. (es.pn/2kgmnCb)

George Bodenheimer, who was ESPN’s president from 1998 to 2011 and executive chairman until May 2014, will be the acting chairman of the company for the next 90 days, ESPN said in a statement.

Skipper’s departure comes within a few days after Disney struck a deal to buy film, television and international businesses from Rupert Murdoch’s Twenty-First Century Fox Inc for $52.4 billion.

Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger, who extended his stay at the company through 2021 to oversee integration of Fox’s businesses, lauded Skipper’s candor and backed his decision.

Skipper, who took over his current roles in 2012, has led ESPN to a series of long-term, multiplatform agreements with major rights holders, including the National Basketball Association and the Major League Baseball.

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

Reporting by Aishwarya Venugopal in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur

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