Maria Taylor leaves ESPN after contract ends

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ESPN sideline reporter Maria Taylor interviews Grayson Allen #3 of the Duke Blue Devils following the 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 that comes after her colleague Rachel Nichols suggested Taylor got the job because of her race.

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

“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,” said Jimmy Pitaro, the chairman of ESPN. “While she chose to pursue a new opportunity, we are proud of the work we’ve done together.”

Taylor, 34, likely landed a new job at NBC, according to the New York Post, and she is expected to part of the network’s Olympics coverage that begins on Friday.

Taylor could also potentially become the host of “Football Night in America,” a pre-game show on NBC, or have a role on Notre Dame football this season if the NBC contract is finalized, the Post reported.

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

The conversation was recorded in Nichols’ hotel room in Florida without her knowledge and was fed into ESPN’s control room in Connecticut from her camera. Nichols complained to Mendelsohn about Taylor getting a job hosting ESPN’s pregame and postgame coverage of the 2020 NBA Finals, alleging that the network was trying to make up for its “crappy longtime record on diversity.”

The recording began circulating within ESPN shortly after the call.

Nichols has reportedly apologized directly to Taylor but was rebuffed.

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

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