ESPN president resigns, cites 'substance addiction'

ESPN president resigns, cites 'substance addiction'
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ESPN President John Skipper resigned from the network on Monday, citing a "substance addiction" that he says he has struggled with for many years.

"I have struggled for many years with a substance addiction," Skipper said in a statement. "I have decided that the most important thing I can do right now is to take care of my problem.

"I have disclosed that decision to the company, and we mutually agreed that it was appropriate that I resign. I will always appreciate the human understanding and warmth that [Walt Disney Company President Bob Iger] displayed here and always," he continued.

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

Skipper also served as co-chairman of the Disney Media Networks.

Former ESPN President George Bodenheimer will "take over as the acting chairman of the company for the next 90 days to help Disney chairman and chief executive officer Bob Iger find Skipper's replacement," according to the network.

Bodenheimer, 59, was ESPN president from 1998-2011 before being named the company's executive chairman.

Skipper, 61, joined ESPN in 1997 and served as its president since the beginning of 2012.

"I join John Skipper's many friends and colleagues across the company in wishing him well during this challenging time," Iger said in a statement. "I respect his candor and support his decision to focus on his health and his family."

The news comes just days after Disney, which is a majority owner in ESPN, announced plans to acquire most of 21st Century Fox’s assets for $52.4 billion. The deal does not include Fox News, Fox Business Network, Fox Sports 1 and 2, the Big Ten Network or the Fox broadcasting network and stations.

Nielsen Media Research reported in September that ESPN has lost more than 13 million subscribers in the last six years, resulting in layoffs of hundreds at the network.

--This report was updated at 11:51 a.m.