The announcement of his departure said Le Batard “will be leaving ESPN early next year to pursue a new opportunity.” His ESPN radio show, The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz, will end Jan. 4. His hosting of the TV show Highly Questionable will finish the same day, but the show will remain on ESPN with what’s described as a “contributing team.”
“It was mutually agreed that it was best for both sides to move on to new opportunities and we worked together closely to make that possible,” said Norby Williamson, ESPN executive vice president and executive editor. “We thank Dan for his many years and contributions to ESPN and wish him all the best going forward.”
Le Batard has clashed in recent months with ESPN executives, and has complained that the network won’t let him talk about politics. Another major problem concerned his longtime radio producer Chris Cote, who was laid off in a 300-person downsizing in November. Le Batard brought him back as his “personal assistant” and paid him out of his own pocket. Le Batard claimed to have been “blindsided” by the dismissal of Cote, and called it, “The greatest disrespect of my professional career.”
ESPN has been downsizing in the last year, and no longer having to pay Le Batard’s reported $3.5 million per year salary will bring further relief for the struggling network.
Le Batard was conciliatory in the statement today. “Gracias to ESPN for unleashing Papi and Stugotz upon an unsuspecting America, and for lending its substantive credibility to our careening clown car. Can’t believe Stugotz finally achieved his dream of becoming a high-priced free agent. I’m forever indebted to Erik Rydholm, Matt Kelliher and their vibrant team for providing a creative oasis across a decade, and for expanding the Le Batard family to include so many brilliant colleagues who have become forever friends, bonded eternally by laughter and love.”
He went on to thank many of his coworkers, adding, “thank you, Disney and ESPN, for a quarter century of absurd blessings. To our loyal army of concerned fans, and to everyone who walked along and played an instrument in our Marching Band to Nowhere, know that it is a very exciting time for us, not a sad one. And that you’ll be hearing our laughter again soon enough.”
As a result of Le Batard’s departure, Greeny, with Mike Greenberg, will move to the ESPN radio 10 AM – 12 PM ET time slot on Jan. 5, followed by Bart & Hahn, which will join the national ESPN Radio lineup from 12 – 2 PM every weekday. The show, which features Bart Scott and Alan Hahn, has been on the air in New York’s ESPN outlets since January. Greeny and Bart & Hahn will be simulcast on ESPN+.
ESPN’s weekday commentary show Highly Questionable will field a contributing team including Elle Duncan, Domonique Foxworth, Israel Gutierrez, Bomani Jones, Mina Kimes, Katie Nolan, Sarah Spain, Pablo Torre and Clinton Yates. The show will continue to be produced remotely because of COVID-19, but will be based long term at ESPN’s New York Seaport Studios.