Big ESPN Purge Will Take Out Nearly 20 On-Air Stars: REPORT

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Anne Brown Contributor
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ESPN is laying off nearly 20 of its biggest names in on-air reporting, according to the New York Post (NYP).

ESPN announced the company would begin cuts across its NFL, NBA and ESPN Radio networks Friday, according to a memo obtained by the NYP. The notice reportedly did not go into specifics, but there would be “no sacred cows,” an unnamed source allegedly told the outlet.

Disney-owned ESPN is part of the workforce reduction announced by Disney CEO Bob Iger in February. “We have made the difficult decision to reduce our overall workforce by approximately 7,000 jobs as part of a strategic realignment of the company, including important cost-saving measures necessary for creating a more effective, coordinated and streamlined approach to our business,” Iger previously wrote in a company memo, CNBC reported at the time. (RELATED: Disney’s Reputation Tanks After Polarizing Feud With DeSantis: POLL)

The company let go of behind-the-scenes employees in previous rounds, including ESPN+ general manager Russell Wolff, who worked at the company for 26 years, and Mike Soltys, a public relations exec who was at ESPN for 43 years.

Some of the contracted employees allegedly notified Friday will still be paid but will no longer appear on-air, according to the NYP.

Some of the biggest names included in the layoffs are Monday Night Countdown’s Suzy Kolber, SportsCenter anchor Ashley Brewer, This Just In’s Max Kellerman, 16-year NFL analyst Keyshawn Johnson, as well as former Super Bowl MVP Steve Young, college basketball analyst LaPhonso Ellis, former NFL quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and NFL draft analyst Todd McShay, Front Office Sports reported.

“It’s important for you to know that these are difficult decisions, involving individuals who have had tremendous impact on our company. They are based more on overall efficiency than merit, and we believe they will help us meet our financial targets and ensure future growth. Out of respect to all involved, we don’t plan on releasing a complete list of names” the memo reportedly reads.

One of the first names made public Friday was Jeff Van Gundy, ESPN’s top National Basketball Association (NBA) game analyst, according to a separate article from the NYP. Fans and athletes have expressed disappointment at the report, tweeting that it was a “bad move” by the network. NBA analyst and former basketball star Jalen Rose is also one of the biggest names to be let go, the NYP reported in another article Friday.

“This place feels like a morgue,” an employee who allegedly works at ESPN’s offices in Bristol, Connecticut, told Front News Sports.