Jemele Hill, the outspoken ESPN host and commentator who drew fire for calling President Trump a “white supremacist” on Twitter, is leaving the network next month, according to multiple reports.
ESPN expert and bestselling author James Miller was first to report the news of Hill’s departure, noting on Twitter she was offered an “amicable” buyout of her $2.5 million per year contract after a meeting she requested with new ESPN president James Pitaro. The news was quickly confirmed by The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch and Variety’s Brian Steinberg. Hill’s last day at ESPN is expected to be Sept. 1
Neither Hill nor ESPN immediately responded to a request for comment.
Hill’s departure comes after Pitaro made it clear he wants less politics intermixed with ESPN’s sports coverage. Among other things, Pitaro has told the NFL the network won’t air footage of the national anthem prior to ESPN’s Monday Night Football broadcasts due to players’ continued protests of racial injustice on the sidelines.
“If you ask me is there a false narrative out there, I will tell you ESPN being a political organization is false,” Pitaro told reporters at a media event earlier this month. “I will tell you I have been very, very clear with employees here that it is not our jobs to cover politics, purely.”
Hill, a one-time Philadelphia Inquirer intern, has worked at ESPN since Nov. 2006, when she joined the network as a national columnist. Hill is currently a senior columnist and corespondent for ESPN’s The Undefeated after stepping down from SC6, a failed attempted at a personality-driven version of SportsCenter that executives reverted back to a more traditional edition of the show.
Hill is probably best know for her open and direct criticism of President Trump. In September 2017, Hill called Trump a “white supremacist” over his response to the racial violence in Charlottesville, where the president equated neo-Nazis and members of the Klu Klux Klan with counter protesters. She also referred to Trump as “an unfit, bigoted, incompetent moron,” which led to White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders calling on ESPN to fire her.
“I think that’s one of the more outrageous comments that anyone could make, and certainly something that I think is a fireable offense by ESPN,” Sanders said at the time.
Though the network issued a statement saying Hill’s comments “do not represent the position of ESPN,” she was never punished directly for her comments. ESPN did suspend her a little over a month later after she suggested fans should boycott sponsors of the Dallas Cowboys after owner Jerry Jones threatened to bench players who kneeled during the national anthem.
Hill is scheduled to speak at the fifth annual Detroit Homecoming alongside fellow ESPN colleague Kelley Carter, a reporter for The Undefeated. Back in August, Hill and Carter pair formed a production company called Lodge Freeway Media, which will undoubtedly figure into the next stage of her career.
“I know that whenever I kick off the next iteration of my career, it will involve me getting more deeply involved in producing original content,” Hill told the Detroit Metro Times. “There are avenues opening up for women of color to provide different perspectives that’s something we really wanted to take a hard look at.”
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