July 21, 2021

Maria Taylor and ESPN Are No More, She is Expected to Join NBC Sports Olympic Coverage

ESPN and Maria Taylor jointly announced today that after much discussion, an agreement on a contract extension could not be reached. As a result, Maria’s last assignment for ESPN was last night’s NBA Finals telecast. Comments from Jimmy Pitaro and Maria Taylor:

Comment from Jimmy Pitaro, Chairman, ESPN and Sports Content

“Maria’s remarkable success speaks directly to her abilities and work ethic. There is no doubt we will miss Maria, but we remain determined to continue to build a deep and skilled talent roster that thoroughly reflects the athletes we cover and the fans we serve. While she chose to pursue a new opportunity, we are proud of the work we’ve done together.”

Comment from Maria Taylor:

“So thankful to Jimmy and all of my great teammates and friends at the SEC Network, College GameDay, Women’s and Men’s college basketball, and the NBA Countdown family — the people who believed in me, encouraged me, pushed me, and lifted me up.  Words are inadequate to express my boundless appreciation, and I hope to make them proud.”

Maria Taylor is expected to sign a contract with NBC Sports very soon and to be a part of NBC Olympic coverage which officially starts on Friday. Reports also say she would be in the mix to host and report during NBC's “Football Night in America" broadcast and Notre Dame football.

Taylor's departure from ESPN does not come without some controversy. Maria was the subject of  a controversial leaked audio from ESPN host Rachel Nichols on diversity in the workplace in which she stated that Taylor didn't deserve the lead host position on the network's NBA Countdown show this season. Nichols believed she should have been named host and Taylor was a diversity hire. The leaked audio occurred during the NBA bubble season in Orlando last year and reported in the New York Times in early July of this year.

Taylor addressed the controversy at the time on social media.

During the 2020-21 season Nichols was a sideline reporter and hosted the NBA news and interview program "The Jump" on ESPN, but after the leaked audio surfaced, she was booted from the sidelines during the NBA Finals in favor of Malika Andrews

Coming to Rachel Nichol's defense earlier this month was former NBA player Stephen Jackson. Many remember him as a friend of George Floyd and many were not feeling what he had to say.

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