ESPN is bringing out the ax and apparently no one is safe.
This morning, according to the New York Post, ESPN sent a mass memo to all employees informing them that a round of layoffs was about to take place. The network is set to cut around 20 on-air anchors and broadcasters.
The first big name to be slashed from ESPN is NBA analyst Jeff Van Gundy. While his booth buddies Mark Jackson and Mike Breen are expected to remain with the network, Van Gundy’s role as color commentator is suspected of being handed over to a new person.
ESPN’s layoffs are part of a bigger Disney internal process that started last November when CEO Bob Iger took over. Disney, which owns ESPN, had a goal since Iger took charge to cut approximately 7,000 jobs in order to save money. In those rounds of layoffs, several longtime ESPN behind-the-scenes employees were unfortunately let go. Now, in this round of layoffs which was organized by ESPN chairman Jimmy Patiro, ESPN is going after seven figure talent in order to save a bunch of lower-paying behind-the-scenes jobs.
The desire to cut as few jobs as possible makes sense as to why Van Gundy was fired, considering he makes well over a million dollars per year. ESPN is expected to replace Van Gundy with a current ESPN employee in order to save money by essentially double-dipping talent on multiple shows and podcasts. Some names that have come up are JJ Reddick, Doris Burke, and Richard Jefferson.
While Van Gundy may have been pretty annoying at times, it truly will be hard to see him go. Nearing his 100th Finals game in the booth, our generation grew up listening to Van Gundy and Jackson act like little children to father-figure Breen. I will miss Van Gundy’s contradictory statements about referees every game as well as his absolute nonsense that oftentimes has nothing to do with the game itself.
It will be extremely weird to hear Jackson and Breen cover a game with another person, but I think we can all agree that it should definitely be JJ Reddick.