Skip Bayless to Leave ESPN: Latest Details, Comments and Reaction

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistApril 26, 2016

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 28:  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.  (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Paley Center for Media)
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

ESPN personality and First Take mainstay Skip Bayless will be leaving ESPN when his contract ends in August, according to a Tuesday press release shared by Dave Nagle of ESPN MediaZone.

He will appear on First Take for the final time the day after the conclusion of the NBA Finals.

Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated reported that ESPN wanted Bayless to return, but he chose to "go in another direction." 

According to Kevin Draper of Deadspin, Bayless is expected to sign with Fox Sports, per an industry source. Deitsch reported Bayless "is looking at $5 million or so per year" to join Fox, according to a source.

Jamie Horowitz, the president of Fox Sports National Networks, told Michael McCarthy of Sporting News in March that he was interested in bringing a personality like Bayless into the Fox family:

I look at these "opinionists" like superstars in the NBA. You can probably name the dozen superstars who are out there. It's like asking the (Boston) Celtics, "Are you interested in Kevin Durant?" Yes, we're interested in all the superstars. Of course, I'm interested in Skip. I'm interested in Stephen A. and Michael (Smith) and Jemele [Hill] and (Tony) Kornheiser and (Michael) Wilbon. Just like ESPN and Fox were both interested in Colin [Cowherd].

While Bayless has long been a polarizing figure both inside journalism circles and in the general public, there's no denying the popularity of First Take or the impact it has had on the general sports media landscape. Per McCarthy, the program was the No. 1 studio show on ESPN2 and "averaged a record 413,000 viewers in February."

Bayless' penchant for making unpopular arguments and his often emotional and high-strung debates with Stephen A. Smith have helped First Take remain a morning powerhouse at ESPN.

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