The ESPN exodus continued Sunday, with the talented, controversial and recently demoted Jason Whitlock parting ways with the company, according to Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated. ESPN bought out Whitlock’s contract says Deitsch, continuing a trend of high-profile departures from the network.
Whitlock lasted barely two years into his second stint with the company. He returned in August of 2013 to head a site eventually named The Undefeated (but one that had been developed under the working title “Black Grantland,” a reference to how Whitlock’s site would focus on the convergence of race and sport while featuring the same sort of thoughtful, in-depth pieces that often appeared on the site founded by Bill Simmons). Despite some marquee hires, such as Mike Wise of The Washington Post, the site still hasn’t launched — it’s been like ESPN’s version of Chinese Democracy or Detox — and this summer, Whitlock was replaced at the top by Leon Carter, a writer with the website’s New York branch.
In a circulated statement, ESPN was terse in describing its split with Whitlock who, for what it’s worth, was the most watchable guest host on Pardon The Interruption:
“We have mutually agreed to part ways, which was Jason’s preference following the shift from his role as Editor-in-Chief. Jason is a talented print and television commentator, and we wish him success in his next chapter. ESPN remains fully committed to The Undefeatedand plans continue toward an official launch.”
Whitlock joins Bill Simmons, Colin Cowherd, Keith Olbermann as recent departures in Disney’s bloodletting. But other than those PTI guest spots, his presence wasn’t as pronounced on the network as the men who preceded him out of Bristol. That was especially odd for someone with a grand presence and vocal, unapologetic opinions.It was almost like ESPN did
Deitsch guesses Whitlock is a natural to rejoin Fox Sports, where he worked in between ESPN stints.
Got the drop on MSN . . .