Scandal

ESPN president John Skipper stands behind Sage Steele

Fox411: ESPN replaces Sage Steele amid network's decision to limit on-air talent's political commentary

 

ESPN president John Skipper is standing behind Sage Steele after the network announced she would no longer host "NBA Countdown." 

"Sage has done a wonderful job for us in a number of important roles," Skipper told Fox News. "As previously announced, her 'SportsCenter' presence has grown and this week alone she has led our coverage from the men's Final Four and the Masters.

"Sage definitively has a bright and long-term future at ESPN and my complete support."

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Skipper's statement comes two days after viewers accused ESPN of demoting Steele over her conservative politics.

Steele has been with ESPN for a decade, and has been at the center of several controversies in recent months. In January, Steele came under fire when she complained about protesters of President Donald Trump's travel ban causing her to miss her flights.

She also faced heat for abruptly ending an interview with Arcade Fire lead singer Win Butler after he voiced his left-leaning political opinions at the NBA's Celebrity All-Star Game, and for criticizing NFL players' decision to kneel for the National Anthem.

A source told Fox News at the time the staffing change was announced that Steele is still "very much employed" by ESPN and is leading the network's "SportsCenter on the Road" initiative. The source told us Steele's new role was announced months ago and she is still a "big part" of the company.

You can find Sasha Savitsky on Twitter @SashaFB.