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Inveterate shit-stirrer Skip Bayless jumps from ESPN to Fox

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Yet another outspoken, controversy-prone sports personality is parting ways with ESPN. But hey, here’s a fun twist: for once, one of the network’s loud-mouthed, oft-abrasive talking heads is leaving the network on his own terms. The New York Times is reporting that Skip Bayless, of ESPN2’s morning sports debate show First Take, is leaving the network in favor of a prominent role on competitor Fox Sports 1.

Bayless—who’s been hosting the daily First Take since 2007, and has worked with ESPN in one way or another for nearly 30 years—is known for provoking controversy (a trait he shares with his co-host, Stephen A. Smith). He’s also known for provoking ratings: according to Nielsen, First Take has continued to break its own viewership records over the last few months.


In recent years, ESPN has made way more headlines for losing talent than acquiring it. Like Bayless, radio host Colin Cowherd jumped ship for Fox last year, while HBO scooped up Grantland founder Bill Simmons roughly six seconds after the network let him go. Meanwhile, Keith Olbermann was dropped from the schedule in 2015, and former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling was recently (and unceremoniously) fired for anti-transgender comments he posted on Facebook.

Bayless’ last First Take will occur the day after the NBA finals. His contract with ESPN expires in August.


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