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.
The network released a statement thanking Bayless for his many contributions to ESPN, and for his hard work during the past 12 years. Skip and his partner Stephen A. Smith confirmed the news during a heartfelt exchange on the air.
The announcement of Bayless’ departure comes one day after it was learned that Mike Tirico would be leaving for NBC. The network lost Bill Simmons, Colin Cowherd, Keith Olbermann and Jason Whitlock in 2015.
With FS1 boss Jamie Horowitz on the record about wanting Bayless on his roster, and looking to building Fox Sports’ programming around opinionated personalities, a reunion seems inevitable. Rumors have been swirling that the two sides have a deal that will reportedly pay Bayless more than five million dollars per year, but that’s not been confirmed yet by either party.
Going forward, ESPN now has to figure out who will replace Bayless opposite Stephen A. Smith. They could elect to build a show around Smith’s individual talents, but with the program delivering high ratings, and the formula working, a new addition is likely to be added.