Maria Taylor leaves ESPN after contract expires

ESPN part-time reporter Maria Taylor interviews Grayson Allen # 3 of the Duke Blue Devils after their game against the North Carolina Tar Heels at Cameron Indoor Stadium on March 3, 2018 in Durham, North Carolina.

Lance King | Getty Images

ESPN announced on Wednesday that Maria Taylor will leave the network, a decision made after colleague Rachel Nichols suggested that Taylor got the job because of her race.

ESPN said in a statement Wednesday that Taylor’s last assignment was Tuesday’s NBA Finals broadcast and her contract has now expired. ESPN said the two sides could not agree on a new contract.

“Maria’s remarkable success speaks directly to her skills and work ethic. We will no doubt miss Maria, but we remain determined to continue building a comprehensive and knowledgeable talent roster that thoroughly reflects the athletes we service and the fans we serve, ”said Jimmy Pitaro, chairman of ESPN. “Even though she chose another opportunity, we are proud of the work we have done together.”

Taylor, 34, has likely got a new job at NBC, according to the New York Post, and is expected to participate in the network’s Olympic coverage, which begins Friday.

Taylor could also potentially host “Football Night in America,” a pre-game show on NBC, or play a role in Notre Dame football this season when the NBC deal is signed, the Post reported.

The announcement comes weeks after the New York Times disclosed details of a July 2020 phone call with Nichols and Adam Mendelsohn, communications advisor to Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James.

The conversation was taped in Nichols’ hotel room in Florida without her knowledge and fed into the ESPN Connecticut control room by her camera. Nichols complained to Mendelsohn that Taylor got a job hosting ESPN’s pre- and post-game coverage of the 2020 NBA Finals, claiming the network was trying to balance its “shitty long-term diversity record.”

The recording began circulating on ESPN shortly after the call.

Nichols reportedly apologized directly to Taylor but was turned down.

Disclosure: CNBC parent NBCUniversal owns NBC Sports and NBC Olympics. NBC Olympics holds the U.S. broadcast rights to all Summer and Winter Games through 2032.

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