On Wednesday ESPN announced that Skip Bayless would be parting ways with the network after 12 years.
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.
His contract is up in August. For months, Bayless and his reps have been talking with Fox Sports executives about the 64-year-old joining that network and having an afternoon debate show on FS1 built around him. Fox Sports Networks president Jamie Horowitz, a former ESPN executive, has long been a fan of Bayless and was the lead executive on First Take through many of its most controversial days.
Expect FS1 to announce in the not-too-distant future that Bayless has signed with them—and likely for about $5-6 million per year, according to multiple sources.
In an interview with SI.com on Tuesday, ESPN vice president of production Norby Williamson said Bayless made the decision to leave. ESPN executives praised Bayless on his way out and said he would work on First Take through the end of the NBA season.
“We wanted Skip to stay and we had discussions with him, but he ended making the decision,” Williamson said. “I respect his decision. His contract was coming up, and he decided to go in another direction.”
Asked what that other direction is, Williamson said, “I’m not here to comment on that other direction.”
Williamson declined comment on ESPN’s financial offer to Bayless, which was believed to be $4 million per year.