Bodenheimer, who was the President of ESPN prior to John Skipper, signed an extension to remain in his role as the Executive Chairman of ESPN, a spokesman confirmed. Walsh, who is the Executive Vice President/Executive Editor, is widely regarded as Skipper’s most trusted adviser.
When asked to squelch industry rumors that he was leaving ESPN to teach, Walsh told The Big Lead: “My first job after my Master’s Degree was teaching and I’ve always vowed that I would return to the classroom. I’m interested in working with one or more schools to engage future decision makers.” He plans on staying through at least mid-2014.
Bodenheimer and Walsh will be crucial sounding boards for Skipper as he navigates the waters of an interesting year ahead – ESPN’s first serious “challenge” from another network. Fox Sports, much more than NBC Sports and CBS Sports, is best positioned to go head-to-head with ESPN in the cable sports television world.
This year, Fox has gone directly to ESPN to poach talent, swiping TV host Charissa Thompson and beloved college basketball analyst Bill Raftery. ESPN, meanwhile, has weathered significant layoffs and hired former NFL linebacker Ray Lewis, Jeff Goodman from CBS Sports, “free agent” Keith Olbermann and stats wizard Nate Silver from the New York Times.