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 will return as the pre-game and halftime host of the NBA Finals. The move came amid controversy surrounding comments from ESPN broadcaster Rachel Nichols during a leaked phone call suggesting that Taylor, who is black, was chosen to host last year’s finale because the network was under pressure to tackle its “long-standing crappy diversity record.”
Nichols, who was slated to be a secondary reporter for this year’s finals, has been replaced by reporter Malika Andrews. The final 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.
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