BRISTOL - ESPN notified 100 employees Thursday morning that they had been laid off.
Those affected were not identified publicly by the Bristol-based sports media conglomerate.
Throughout the day, more than 15 employees who had fallen victim took to social media, particularly on Twitter, to make public that they were no longer with ESPN. Many said they enjoyed their years with the company and were grateful for the opportunity.
Among those who were laid off included 17-year veteran reporter Ed Werder, who primarily covered the NFL, Jay Crawford, who has hosted multiple shows and has anchored for SportsCenter, Scott Burnside, who covered the NHL for 13 years and Trent Dilfer, who served as an NFL analyst for nearly nine years.
“I have no plans to retire,” Werder said via Twitter.
“While surprised and disappointed, I was fortunate to have worked (at ESPN) with so many devoted, talented journalists. I will always be grateful,” Werder continued in a second tweet.
“After 14 wonderful years my time at (ESPN) is over,” Crawford said from his Twitter account. “From Cold Pizza to First Take to (SportsCenter) I made more friends than I can name. Forever grateful!”
Mike Soltys, vice president for corporate communications at ESPN, on Wednesday clarified comments made to The Press on Tuesday. He was quoted in a story published Wednesday as saying there was no time frame as to when the layoffs would be carried out.
Soltys on Wednesday said he declined to comment as to the time frame, but he did not mean to come across as saying he was not aware that one was in place.
On Wednesday, Soltys declined to confirm the number of layoffs the company carried out. A source with knowledge of the situation, however, said the number being reported in multiple publications - 100 - was accurate.
Soltys added that many on-air personalities are not based in Bristol.
John Skipper, president of ESPN, issued a statement to the company’s employees this week amidst news of the layoffs.
“A necessary component of managing change involves constantly evaluating how we best utilize all of our resources, and that sometimes involves difficult decisions,” Skipper’s statement said.
“Dynamic change demands an increased focus on versatility and value, and as a result, we have been engaged in the challenging process of determining the talent - anchors, analysts, reporters, writers and those who handle play-by-play - necessary to meet those demands,” the statement continued.
“A limited number of other positions will also be affected and a handful of new jobs will be posted to fill various needs. These decisions impact talented people who have done great work for our company. I would like to thank all of them for their efforts and their many contributions to ESPN.”
Wednesday’s layoffs follow those in 2015 and 2013. ESPN’s parent company, Disney, has seen great success in recent years, but with cable viewership on the decline, ESPN’s ratings have been under pressure.
Justin Muszynski can be reached at 860-973-1809 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.