ESPN “SportsCenter” anchor Sage Steele, who was removed from the air after making controversial comments about vaccine mandates, sexism in sports and former President Barack Obama’s ethnicity, has left the network after settling a lawsuit.

The sports media giant sidelined Steele in 2021 after her comments on social and political issues sparked criticism. She apologized for the remarks but sued the network alleging it retaliated against her for her comments and violated her free speech rights.

“Having successfully settled my case with ESPN/Disney, I have decided to leave so I can exercise my first amendment rights more freely,” Steele, who started at the network in 2007, said in a social media post Tuesday. “I am grateful for so many wonderful experiences over the past 16 years and am excited for my next chapter!”

The network confirmed Steele’s departure Tuesday in a statement.

“ESPN and Sage Steele have mutually agreed to part ways. We thank her for her many contributions over the years,” according to the network.

A person familiar with the matter said the network had been in mediation with Steele prior to her departure, CNN reported. The terms of her departure were not known.

ESPN has removed Sage Steele from programming for a week. Here’s why

What did Sage Steele say?

Appearing on former NFL quarterback Jay Cutler‘s podcast “Uncut with Jay Cutler” in September 2021, Steele talked about Disney’s vaccine mandate, female sports reporters and Obama’s racial identity.

“I respect everyone’s decision. I really do. But to mandate it is sick, and it’s scary to me in many ways,” Steele told Cutler. “I’m not surprised it got to this point, especially with Disney. I mean, a global company like that.”

Steele, 50, also made comments about female sports reporters and sexual harassment, saying women need to “be responsible” and it “isn’t just on players and athletes and coaches to act a certain way,” per CNN.

View Comments

“So when you dress like that, I’m not saying you deserve the gross comments, but you know what you’re doing when you’re putting that outfit on, too,” Steele said. “Like, women are smart, so don’t play coy and put it all on the guys.”

Steele also questioned Obama’s decision to identify as Black on the census.

“I’m like, ‘Well, congratulations to the president. That’s his thing.’ I think that’s fascinating considering his Black dad was nowhere to be found, but his white mom and grandma raised him, but hey, you do you. I’m going to do me,” she said.

Steele’s father, Gary Steele, was the first Black varsity football player at West Point. Her mother, Mona Steele, is white.

Join the Conversation
Looking for comments?
Find comments in their new home! Click the buttons at the top or within the article to view them — or use the button below for quick access.