ESPN veteran Sage Steele, best known for her hosting gigs on NBA Countdown and SportsCenter, left the network in 2023 following a lawsuit.
But what happened, exactly? Below, we break down the situation.
What happened to Sage Steele?
Sage sued ESPN and its parent company Disney in 2022, claiming that her employer retaliated against her for comments she made in 2021 outside of work.
Those comments were made on the podcast Uncut With Jay Cutler, where Sage was a guest and spoke about topics including her company's COVID-19 vaccine mandate, Barack Obama's heritage, and the way female journalists dress.
In her lawsuit, Sage alleged that her employer had retaliated by suspending her and no longer giving her high-profile assignments. She also alleged that they violated her free speech rights and breeched her contract.
In August 2023, it was reported that the lawsuit had been settled, and that Sage and her employer had parted ways.
“Having successfully settled my case with ESPN/Disney, I have decided to leave so I can exercise my first amendment rights more freely,” Steele said in a statement that she posted to social media. “I am grateful for so many wonderful experiences over the past 16 years and am excited for my next chapter!”
“ESPN and Sage Steele have mutually agreed to part ways. We thank her for her many contributions over the years,” the network said in its own statement (per Variety).
Folks in the comments section of her post were divided, with some cheering on the anchor for taking her next steps and others slamming her.
"I hope you got paid handsomely," one commenter wrote. "Let’s be honest. Every time slot you filled on SportsCenter probably got better ratings than before. It’s because you have an elegance and beauty to you. You need to be on television somewhere so hopefully that’s in your future again. ESPN is failing under its pretend woke nonsense. Best wishes to you. You’ll do great anywhere."
"Disney’s approach to you and so many others over the last five years has been off base," wrote another commenter. "You are a talent, you are kind, and so many of us love and adore you. And … I have no doubt that you have the full support of your family which means so much."
Another person commented: "Try to not spread falsehoods and innuendos in your future employment."
"You clearly have no clue what the first amendment is," wrote someone else. "You wont be missed. See you on Fox soon playing your role of letting white folks feel good about their racism."