Ex-EXPN Chief John Skipper Says Drug Extortion Threat Led To His Departure

John Skipper ESPN

Former ESPN President John Skipper says someone whom he bought cocaine from attempted to extort him — a threat that led to his abrupt departure from the Walt Disney Co. after 27 years.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter contributor James Andrew Miller, author of These Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN, Skipper described two decades of substance abuse which, he contends, was “infrequent” and never interfered with his work.

A bad drug buy last December set in motion events that led to his resignation, Skipper said in the interview. The long-time executive said he became the victim of an extortion threat that he disclosed to Disney CEO Bob Iger.

“They threatened me, and I understood immediately that threat put me and my family at risk, and this exposure would put my professional life at risk as well,” Skipper said. “I foreclosed that possibility by disclosing the details to my family, and then when I discussed it with Bob, he and I agreed that I had placed the company in an untenable position and as a result, I should resign.”

Skipper acknowledged it was “inappropriate” for a senior Disney executive to be in any way associated with this type of conduct.

“My drug use never had any professional repercussions, but I still have profound regret,” Skipper said. “I accept that the consequences of my actions are my responsibility and have been appropriate. I also have to accept that I used very poor judgment.”

Skipper described an agonizing weekend drafting his resignation statement and contemplating leaving a job he loved.

“I don’t think I ate for the 48 hours,” Skipper said. “I was filled with great regret and tension. My stomach was churning. I wasn’t sleeping. I was despondent. I was panicked. But, no, I never thought about trying to reverse course.”

Asked to address whether he engaged in any inappropriate conduct with female colleagues during his tenure at ESPN, Skipper delivered an emphatic response.

“There were no such incidents at work during my entire tenure, including no allegations. I did not traffic in that kind of activity,” Skipper said. “The company is not engaged in any actions on my behalf and never has been. There were no affairs or inappropriate relationships at work nor indiscretions other than what I have disclosed. My behavior relative to women at ESPN was always respectful.”

This article was printed from https://deadline.com/2018/03/expn-john-skipper-cocaine-extortion-departure-1202338443/