Maria Taylor is separating from ESPN after her contract expired this week, the network said on Wednesday.
ESPN and Taylor were unable to come to an agreement on extending his contract, the statement said. Taylor hosted the coverage of the NBA Finals, which ended Tuesday with the Milwaukee Bucks winning the NBA Championship. It was Taylor’s last day with the network.
“Maria’s remarkable success is a direct testament to her abilities and work ethic,” ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro said in the statement. He later added: “Although she has chosen to seize a new opportunity, we are proud of the work we have accomplished together.”
Taylor thanked Pitaro and her colleagues who “believed in me, encouraged me, pushed me and uplifted me,” she said in the statement.
The release comes two weeks after Rachel Nichols, host of ESPN’s “The Jump”, made headlines for comments she made about Taylor in July of last year.
In a leaked phone conversation that she accidentally taped, Nichols, who is white, suggested to longtime advisor Adam Mendelsohn to Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James that Taylor got the job to host the shows of pre-game and post-game of the 2020 NBA Finals because of her running.
She suggested that Taylor, who is black, was selected because ESPN executives “feel pressure” to resolve her “long-standing crappy” diversity issues, according to the recording obtained by The New York Times.
Nichols’ remarks sparked widespread backlash online this month, and they apparently fueled growing tensions over racial issues within the network after his audio leak was released by ESPN employees last year. , according to the Times report.
Pitaro sent a memo to staff addressing the controversy surrounding Nichols’ remarks, saying, “The details of what happened last year are confidential, nuanced and complicated staff matters,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.
“I want to be clear on one thing: Maria Taylor was selected as host of ‘NBA Countdown’ last year because she deserved it,” he added.
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