Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl, who previously this week criticized Maven and its CEO James Heckman, tweeted that he's been fired without severance on Friday afternoon.
Wahl joined SI in 1996 and is the preeminent soccer writer in the country. His departure is yet another blow to a staff that's both lost significant talent and seen its confidence in leadership crater in recent months.
On Sunday night, Wahl sent out a series of Instagram stories that painted Maven in less-than-glowing terms, writing:
"Thankful to have a job, but the people who were laid off from SI this week at least got a good severance package. If we're laid off July 1, we get absolutely nothing. Plus Maven has already decreased my salary 30% and is trying to make that permanent beyond the pandemic, which is shameful. Who would take advantage of a pandemic to permanently reduce someone's salary beyond that pandemic? Maven and James Heckman would.""
To the outside, what's playing out there is the worst nightmare of any newly-acquired property: being systematically gutted from the inside in a tear-down that has no concern for quality.
With the obvious caveat that businesses everywhere are being forced to make difficult financial decisions right now and will have more to make in the future, it'd be a galling prospect to ask a loyal employee for a 30 percent salary cut while offering no hope of recouping those losses on the other side of this crisis.
Going public with his frustration may or may not have sped up the inevitable ending here. Sports media has seen this story play out over and over and over, yet it's still stunning to see such decision-making when it happens.
UPDATE: Front Office Sports' Ian Thomas obtained an internal memo sent by Heckman which confirms the news and holds little back.
"Every senior staff member volunteered to put their personal budgeted future at risk, to save jobs and ensure stable salaries for those making less," Heckman wrote. "Everyone, that is, but one person. This person made more than $350,000 last year to infrequently write stories that generated little meaningful viewership or revenue. Yet he trumpeted that he thought it shameful to be asked to participate in helping his fellow workers. To complain about a personal pay reduction when 21 others had just lost their jobs is incomprehensible in light of the sacrifices others made to help limit layoffs and maintain livable salaries for our staff. Such a me-first attitude is not part of the tradition and culture Maven is committed to maintaining."