Skip Bayless, the fiery and controversial cohost of the ESPN talk show “First Take,” will leave the network in August, when his contract expires.
ESPN announced the news in a press release on Tuesday:
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. We want to thank Skip for his many contributions to ESPN. His hard work and talent have benefited ESPN for 12 years.
Although the news of Bayless’ departure from ESPN is still fresh, there is already rampant speculation that he will land at Fox Sports. A source told Deadspin that Bayless will join Fox Sports, though neither Bayless nor Fox Sports has confirmed this report.
Should Bayless join Fox Sports, he would become the latest in a series of sports-media personalities to jump from ESPN to Fox, following the path of similarly divisive pundits Colin Cowherd and Jason Whitlock.
At Fox, Bayless would also be reunited with former ESPN producer and “First Take” creator Jamie Horowitz.
In March, Horowitz told Sporting News that FS1 is interested in “all the stars” – including Bayless.
“Of course I’m interested in Skip,” Horowitz said.
He continued: “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.”
In November, Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch reported that ESPN was prepared to offer Bayless a contract worth close to $4 million per year.
On Tuesday, Deitsch reported that “First Take” will continue and that ESPN is already interviewing a list of finalists to replace Bayless.