Baseball analyst and former All-Star Curt Schilling was fired from the company last week, marking the latest big-name to have left the sports network.
One of the highest profile names in the ESPN fold, Schilling was let go after he shared a Facebook-posted meme that criticized the furor around North Carolina and the passing of a bathroom bill that discriminates against gay and transgender people.
Ending a tenure that began in 2010, Schilling is just the latest to have left the Disney-owned (DIS) sports network in acrimonious fashion. While Schilling’s departure appears to be because of the comment, ESPN has been reportedly cutting costs lately to combat a shrinking subscriber base and payment of huge broadcasting rights fees.
Here’s a list of others who have left the ESPN arena:
Simmons’ departure from ESPN in May 2015 ended a 15-year working relationship that was mutually beneficial—ESPN gave the columnist a platform to air his much-loved takes on sports and pop culture, and Simmons helped develop a host of entities for the company that included the website Grantland, the documentary series 30 for 30, podcasts, and a huge following grafted to his opinions. But the company didn’t renew his contract—on the back of growing strife that included a three-week suspension in late 2014—and Simmons is now starting his own media empire and site called The Ringer.
The host of a daily show on the network, Olbermann’s contract was also not renewed in July 2015, making it the second time the TV anchor had left ESPN. “While the show’s content was distinctive and extremely high quality, we ultimately made a business decision to move in another direction,” the company said in a statement. Olbermann has since said he’d like to return to television, although the role is still up in the air.
Cowherd, a radio host who had a national audience of around 2.5 million listeners, was fired from his job in July 2015 after on-air comments he made on the intelligence of Dominican Republic baseball players. The timing was interesting, especially since news broke that Cowherd was already planning to leave the network around a week earlier.
He issued an apology, but the damage was done. He joined Fox soon after, and later remarked he wasn’t appreciated enough by his old network.
The sports commentator was hired to jumpstart the network’s new website, The Undefeated, but never saw it come to fruition. In October 2015, he was let go. Whitlock’s time at the helm of ESPN’s site on race and sports was widely reported to have been tension-filled. Just like Cowherd, Whitlock has since joined Fox, and The Undefeated is set to launch in mid-May under new leadership.