ESPN’s latest round of layoffs commenced Friday, with several prominent personalities losing their jobs as the network and parent company Disney continue to implement deep cost-cutting measures.
Network management was expected to inform approximately 20 on-air employees that they were being let go Friday, but it did not make the names public, instead leaving it to the talent and their agents to confirm their status.
Among those who were informed that they were being let go Friday were NBA analysts Jeff Van Gundy and Jalen Rose; NFL studio host Suzy Kolber and analysts Steve Young, Keyshawn Johnson, and Matt Hasselbeck; NFL draft expert Todd McShay; MLB writer and analyst Joon Lee; men’s college basketball analyst LaPhonso Ellis; “SportsCenter” anchor Ashley Brewer; host Max Kellerman; and ESPN Radio host Jason Fitz.
The decision to cut ties with Van Gundy was perhaps the most stunning. The former Knicks and Rockets coach had been part of ESPN’s NBA broadcasts for 16 years, working with Mike Breen and Mark Jackson since the 2014 NBA Finals.
Rose, a versatile commentator who has been part of several ESPN programs, including its “NBA Countdown” studio show since 2012, also was a surprising dismissal.
ESPN, which employs approximately 5,000 people, has undergone previous layoffs in recent months, but this is the first one to touch on-air personalities.
Layoffs at Disney-owned companies were initiated in late March as part of a plan to cut its workforce by 7,000 people.
ESPN was first affected in April, when several behind-the-scenes employees were laid off.
Beyond layoffs, the network also isn’t renewing the contracts of multiple on-air personalities. Former Patriots linebacker and NFL analyst Rob Ninkovich and longtime “SportsCenter” host Neil Everett are among that group.
“Given the current environment, ESPN has determined it necessary to identify some additional cost savings in the area of public-facing commentator salaries, and that process has begun,” said ESPN in a statement.
“This exercise will include a small group of job cuts in the short-term and an ongoing focus on managing costs when we negotiate individual contract renewals in the months ahead.”