Skip Bayless is finally leaving ESPN. Long overdue. Here’s a statement by ESPN about his departure:
Skip Bayless has decided to leave ESPN when his contract expires at the end of August. His final appearance on First Take will be the day after the NBA Finals conclude. We want to thank Skip for his many contributions to ESPN. His hard work and talent have benefited ESPN for 12 years.
So what becomes of First Take? Despite the very public disdain for the show via social media, the show has been one of ESPN’s best. Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless know how to troll their way to ratings. I guess that’s somewhat commendable?
But, don’t celebrate. He won’t be leaving television screens. He’s set to join FOX Sports, according to Deadspin.
According to an industry source, Bayless is expected to join Fox Sports. New Fox Sports head honcho Jamie Horowitz—who worked with Bayless at First Take while at ESPN and is generally credited/blamed for the network’s embarrassing “Embrace Debate” era—has been clear about his desire to remake Fox Sports as a sort of giant crypto-racist shout show, and Bayless is the biggest name in that game. “Yes, we’re interested in all the superstars,” Horowitz told Sporting News last month. “Of course, I’m interested in Skip.”
Sports Illustrated‘s Richard Deitsch also notes ESPN was set to offer Bayless $4 million per year.