Jemele Hill is out at ESPN, according to the New York Post.
The controversial sports commentator left SportsCenter earlier this year and has hardly worked on the network since her departure from the show. Her contract has reportedly been bought out for $2.5 million a year, according to sources not named by the New York Post. Her last day is expected to be Friday.
Author James Miller first tweeted the news on Saturday night, calling the split between Hill and the network amicable. The timing of the announcement likely worked in favor for ESPN and Jemele Hill, lessening the news coverage on what has so far been a huge story for the sports world. With Hill sparring with President Trump, it likely does not come as a surprise to most observers that she is leaving the network. The reason for the buyout has been reported to be Hill’s insistence that she wants to stay involved in politics, while ESPN prefers to stay away from the controversial topic.
Almost a year ago, on September 11, 2017, Hill referred to President Trump as a white supremacist and states that he likes to surround himself with other white supremacists. ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro has made it clear that ESPN is a sports network and does not want to be involved in politics.
Jemele Hill's time with ESPN is reportedly coming to an close pic.twitter.com/lmk8fMK53d
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) August 26, 2018
Hill’s comments on Trump from last year violated the network’s rule that employees must avoiding political discussion on social media. The White House called for Hill to be fired, but then-network president John Skipper failed to even suspend Hill for her actions. However, Skipper did suspend Hill a month later when she made comments about Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and his stance on kneeling during the national anthem.
“Change happens when advertisers are impacted. If you feel strongly about JJ’s statement, boycott his advertisers,” Jemele Hill tweeted. Later she expressed regret that her statement might have reflected poorly on ESPN.
The tweet about Jerry Jones was considered a second offense and earned Hill two weeks off the air. Even after her suspension, Hill continued to violate the social media policy and tweet about politics. In recent months, she has only contributed a few columns to ESPN’s Undefeated website and appeared as a guest on some shows.
Pitaro felt it was necessary to make the stance the network has on politics clear. He has recently stated that most people think the network is political, but it considers its programming apolitical. However, when commentators make their personal politics known, it can hard to ask viewers to disregard the network hosts’ stances while watching the channel.