On Tuesday, Sage Steele revealed her departure from ESPN, a company under Disney's ownership, where she had been for almost twenty years.
Steele shared this significant change in her life on X, mentioning that her legal dispute with the company has been resolved. She chose to depart to have a "greater freedom in exercising my first amendment rights."
Steele penned, "I am grateful for so many wonderful experiences over the past 16 years and am excited for my next chapter!"
Having successfully settled my case with ESPN/Disney, I have decided to leave so I can exercise my first amendment rights more freely. I am grateful for so many wonderful experiences over the past 16 years and am excited for my next chapter!#SteeleStrong
— Sage Steele (@sagesteele) August 15, 2023
The seasoned broadcaster asserted that the network failed to honor her contract based on their response to statements she made in a September 2021 podcast interview. During this conversation, she voiced her opposition to Disney's vaccine directive and commented on former President Obama's choice to identify as Black rather than biracial.
Her lawsuit against ESPN contended that the company inconsistently applied its rule which prevents news staff from delving into politics and societal debates. The legal complaint stated that ESPN "violated Connecticut law and Steele’s rights to free speech based upon a faulty understanding of her comments and a nonexistent, unenforced workplace policy that serves as nothing more than pretext." Additionally, it indicated that the company depended on "inaccurate third-party accounts of Steele’s comments" and "did not immediately review the actual comments or the context in which they were made."
While Steele did express regret for her statements post the podcast episode, she clarified that the network coerced her into issuing the apology.
Beginning her journey at Comcast SportsNet, Steele transitioned to ESPN in 2007. She solidified her presence on "SportsCenter" and also featured on "NBA Countdown."
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