Skip Bayless to Leave ESPN After 12 Years

Polarizing personality will technically work out his contract through August, but will tape final “First Take” in June

Skip Bayless
attends the Paley Prize Gala honoring ESPN's 35th anniversary presented by Roc Nation Sports on May 28, 2014 in New York City.

ESPN loudmouth Skip Bayless is leaving the company he’s called home the past dozen years.

“Skip Bayless has decided to leave ESPN when his contract expires at the end of August,” a company spokesperson said on Tuesday. “His final appearance on ‘First Take’ will be the day after the NBA Finals conclude.”

The company continued: “We want to thank Skip for his many contributions to ESPN. His hard work and talent have benefited ESPN for 12 years.”

“First Take” will continue on sans Skip, TheWrap has learned, though no one has been tapped for his chair as of yet. Stephen A. Smith is the guy who yaps from the other end of the popular morning show’s debate table. “First Take” is moderated these days by Molly Qerim.

Per Deadspin, the highly polarizing Bayless is jumping ship for competitor Fox Sports, which explains the early exodus. Fox Sports did not immediately return TheWrap’s request for comment on Bayless’ apparent next stop.

It’s one that would make sense, however, as the very outspoken Bayless has a good relationship with Fox Sports National Networks President Jamie Horowitz, who also hails from ESPN. Just last month, the executive told The Sporting News that he was courting his former colleague: “Of course, I’m interested in Skip,” Horowitz said.

Per Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch, ESPN had previously been prepared to offer Bayless $4 million annually in his next contract.

Bayless first made his mark in print, mostly in the Dallas market.

Unfortunately for the sports giant, it appears that ESPN is hemorrhaging talent once again.

On Monday, reports surfaced that “Monday Night Football” play-by-play man Mike Tirico was leaving the company. And last week, the so-called “Worldwide Leader in Sports” canned controversial baseball analyst Curt Schilling over an anti-transgender tweet.

Additionally, in the not-too-distant past, popular on-air talent Bill Simmons, Colin Cowherd, Jason Whitlock and Keith Olbermann all left ESPN as well.