Sports Illustrated is currently transitioning ownership and corporate leadership, from Meredith Corp. to Authentic Brands Group, where it will be operated by ad platform and digital media company TheMaven. That transition logged its first major editorial upheaval Tuesday, when it was announced that Editor-in-Chief Chris Stone will be leaving the publication after 27 years. From the sound of things, more turnover could be coming soon, in the form of editorial layoffs.
Stone’s departure was announced in a statement to staff from TheMaven executive and incoming Sports Illustrated CEO Ross Levinsohn. Following Stone’s departure—he is said to be “considering an offer from TheMaven for a more global, less SI-focused position within the company”—executive editor Steve Cannella and SI.com managing editor Ryan Hunt will take over as co-Editors-in-Chief. Stone’s departure was first reported by the New York Post.
Stone’s departure is the first stage of what could be a period of significant turnover at Sports Illustrated. A source at the publication tells Deadspin that Hunt and Cannella are working with TheMaven to identify who among SI’s existing staff will continue with the company under TheMaven’s stewardship, with layoffs likely occurring within the next couple weeks. Stone, Hunt, and Cannella held a late meeting with on-hand staff Tuesday night to answer questions, where they apparently were vague and noncommittal about the number of people who might be laid off on this timeline.
Stone talked up ABG’s purchase of Sports Illustrated in a memo to staff back in May, when the deal was announced, praising the “big ideas” of ABG founder and CEO Jamie Salter. Those “big ideas” and a much-celebrated gentle transition from Meredith to ABG more or less went out the window when ABG took $45 million in upfront money from TheMaven in June and handed over operation of its new media company to a couple notorious back-slapping screw-ups. If you know anything more about what’s going on at Sports Illustrated, please get in touch here.