Steve Young, Jeff Van Gundy, Suzy Kolber and Max Kellerman were among ESPN’s layoffs that reached an excruciating crescendo today, with about 20 on-air personalities losing their jobs.
“Today I join the many hard-working colleagues who have been laid off,” Kolber wrote further Twitter. “Heartbreaking, but 27 years at ESPN was a good run.”
Among the ESPN talent, Front Office Sports has confirmed who will get the axe:
- Steve Young: The former Super Bowl MVP and Pro Football Hall of Famer has served as an analyst on “Monday Night Countdown” and other NFL studio programs since 2000.
- Jeff Van Gundy: The former New York Knicks analyst spent 16 years on ESPN/ABC’s premier NBA team with Mark Jackson and Mike Breen. “Jeff Van Gundy is a great. He made millions,” said a source. “He and [Mike] Breen are the most watchable on ESPN’s NBA coverage.”
- Max Kellerman: His “This Just In” weekday afternoon show is expected to be replaced by a program hosted by Pat McAfee.
- Jalen Rose: NBA analyst and former co-host of “Get Up” with Mike Greenberg and the late Michelle Beadle.
- Keyshawn Johnson: The writing was on the wall for the NFL analyst after he lost his morning radio show. The dismissals of Van Gundy, Rose and Johnson were first reported by The New York Post.
- Suzy Kolber: Host of “Monday Night Countdown” and a 27-year ESPN veteran.
- LaPhonso Ellis: The men’s basketball analyst has served on “College GameDay” with Jay Bilas, Seth Greenberg and Rece Davis since the 2019-2020 season.
- Todd McShay: NFL Draft analyst.
- Ashley Brewer: “SportsCenter” anchor.
- Jason Fitz: ESPN Radio host.
- Joon Lee: Staff writer tweeted his departure Friday.
Kellerman and Johnson were expected to lose their roles on their ESPN Radio show, which also includes Jay Williams as co-host. None of the three appeared on Friday morning’s show.
After ESPN’s firings of Ellis, Van Gundy and Rose, the next shoe to drop is the NFL coverage team. Steve Young, the Super Bowl-winning quarterback turned “Monday Night Cowdown” analyst, is also expected to be part of the layoffs, a source said.
“Some big old names are going to continue,” a source warned. “Their NFL coverage is going to look different next year.”
This is how the layoffs went on Friday.
From 9 a.m. ET, the on-air talent received a phone call informing them they were “no longer contributing to ESPN,” a source said.
Most of those released will be bought out of their guaranteed contracts. They will still get their full salary. But no longer appears on ESPN platforms.
If they choose to take another job, they will have to negotiate out of their current contracts with ESPN. That will likely involve giving up some of the money ESPN owes them.
Unfortunately, ESPN’s slow-motion layoffs aren’t over.
After today’s talent exercise is over, ESPN executives will take a microscope to the rest of their long-term talent contracts.
Many will not be renewed. That process is expected to take up to 12 months.
NBA analyst Vince Carter’s deal is up in September, sources said. He is not expected to be renewed.
Front Office Sports previously broke the news that ESPN is not renewing the contracts of NFL analyst Rob Ninkovich, NHL analyst Chris Chelios and popular SportsCenter anchor Neil Everett will not be renewed.
ESPN is not releasing names publicly, leaving it up to the talent to share the news of their departure.
The Worldwide Leader in Sports employs around 5,000 people worldwide; 4,000 on the headquarters campus in Bristol, Conn.
“Given the current environment, ESPN has determined that it is necessary to identify some additional cost savings in the area of public-facing commentator salaries, and that process has begun. This exercise will include a small group of short-term job cuts and an ongoing focus on managing costs as we negotiate individual contract renewals in the coming months,” ESPN said in a statement.
“This is an extremely challenging process involving individuals who have had a huge impact on our company. These difficult decisions, based more on overall efficiency than profit, will help us achieve our financial goals and ensure future growth.”
The six-month process of layoffs that began at parent company Walt Disney Co. and extended to ESPN, has destroyed the morale of the self-proclaimed Worldwide Leader in Sports.
During a previous round of off-camera cuts, ESPN lost veterans like beloved communications ace Mike Soltys, Emmy Award-winning producer John Dahl and ESPN+ chief Russell Wolff.
“This place feels like a morgue,” said one employee in Bristol.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a developing story that will be updated throughout the day.