By: Alyssa Wilson
Maria Taylor is moving on from her time at ESPN, the network announced Wednesday afternoon.
ESPN & @MariaTaylor jointly announced today that after much discussion, an agreement on a contract extension could not be reached
As a result, her last assignment for ESPN was last night’s NBA Finals telecast
— ESPN PR (@ESPNPR) July 21, 2021
Taylor became the center of unwarranted controversy when her white colleague Rachel Nichols made comments about Taylor being selected to cover the 2020 NBA finals because of the network’s “crappy longtime record on diversity.” The comments Nichols made were leaked publicly, causing candid conversations about the workplace culture at ESPN.
According to The New York Times, the leaked comments had a major impact on the network, prompting ESPN’s parent company Disney to get involved. Nichols, who did not threaten to sue, said the “content of the conversation did not warrant any discipline.”
After the incident, Taylor sent an email to network executives saying, “I will not call myself a victim, but I certainly have felt victimized and I do not feel as though my complaints have been taken seriously.”
Her contract was originally set to expire before the end of the NBA Finals, but she reached an agreement with the network to continue until the Finals were over, Yahoo! Sports reported.
Now that the season has concluded, Taylor is taking her talents to another network. According to the New York Post, she is reportedly expected to work for NBC and cover the Olympics.
Jimmy Pitaro, the Chairman of ESPN and Sports Content, said, “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.”
Taylor released a statement through the network, saying, “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.”
BNC host Mike Hill, a former ESPN employee, reacted to the news on Twitter saying happiness, peace, respect and appreciation are more important than exposure.
Perception ain’t always reality. When u leave ESPN, some think u-r taking a step back. In most cases that’s FAR from the truth. Sure u may not have the exposure u once had but happiness, peace, RESPECT, appreciation & good money w/o being overworked mean so much more #MariaTaylor
— Mike Hill (@ItsMikeHill) July 21, 2021