Sports journalist Maria Taylor is leaving ESPN after she and the network failed to come to an agreement on a contract extension, it was announced on Wednesday.
“So grateful to Jimmy [Pitaro] and all of my great teammates and friends from the SEC Network, College GameDay, College Girls and Boys Basketball, and the NBA Countdown family – the people who believed in me, cheered me on, pushed me and uplifted me, “Taylor said in a statement.” Words are insufficient to express my boundless appreciation, and I hope to make them proud. “
Earlier this month, the network announced that Taylor would return as the pre-game and halftime host of the NBA Finals, which ended Tuesday night with the Milwaukee Bucks winning the championship.
ESPN noted in his statement Wednesday that Taylor’s last assignment for the network was his telecast of the finals during Game 6.
“Maria’s remarkable success is a direct testament to her abilities and work ethic. There is no doubt that we will miss Maria, but we remain committed to continuing to build a roster of deep and skilled talent that perfectly reflects the athletes we cover and the fans we serve. Although she has chosen to seize a new opportunity, we are proud of the work we have accomplished together, ”network president Jimmy Pitaro said in a statement.
The departure comes weeks after Taylor’s colleague ESPN presenter Rachel Nichols suggested she was chosen to host last year’s finals because the network was under pressure to tackle her. “Long-standing crappy diversity record.” Taylor is black.
“So the first thing they teach you in journalism school is not to be history. And I have no intention of breaking that rule today or hijacking it. ‘careful of a fantastic finale, but I also don’t want to let this moment go by without saying how much I respect, how much I appreciate our colleagues here at ESPN, “Nichols began on the July 5 episode of”The jump. “
“How deeply sorry I am for disappointing those I have injured, especially Maria Taylor, and how grateful I am to be a part of this exceptional team.”
Nichols made controversial comments about Taylor in a leaked phone call last year with Adam Mendelsohn, LeBron James ‘advisor and James’ agent Rich Paul, according to the New York Times, which published excerpts from the call.
During the conversation, Nichols explained that Taylor was selected to host the cover of the 2020 NBA Finals. Nichols, who is white, expected to host the cover and was instead asked to be a sideline reporter.
“Guess what that would pave the way for? So that Maria can take care of the accommodation full time, ”she says. “I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world – she covers football, she covers basketball. If you need to give her more things to do because you are feeling the pressure from your long record. date when it comes to diversity – which, by the way, I know personally about the feminine side of it – like, go ahead. Just find it somewhere else. You’re not going to find it from me or take it away from me. my thing. “
The New York Times reported that Nichols unintentionally recorded the call on a camera that transmitted video to ESPN’s control room. The audio of the call was then recorded on a cell phone in the control room and shared with others.
Shortly after Nichols apologized, ESPN removed her as a secondary reporter for this year’s finals and replaced her with reporter Malika Andrews.
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