ESPN announced on Wednesday that NBA and NFL analyst and host Maria Taylor is officially leaving the network. According to the statement released by ESPN, Taylor and the network couldn’t come to an agreement on a contract extension. Her final assignment was Tuesday night’s coverage of Game 6 of the NBA Finals.
“Maria’s remarkable success speaks directly to her abilities and work ethic," ESPN chairman Jimmy Pitaro said in a statement. "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 also commented on her departure from the network:
“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.”
Taylor, who also covers college basketball and college football for ESPN, didn’t announce where she’s going next. However, the New York Post reported that Taylor is close to inking a contract with NBC, and could even be part of their Olympics coverage.
Strife between Taylor, ESPN
Taylor was recently at the center of a firestorm about race and gender that she had no hand in creating. Last year, after ESPN decided to give the 2020 NBA Finals hosting job to Taylor instead of her fellow NBA host and reporter Rachel Nichols, Nichols was caught on tape alleging that Taylor, who is Black, had only been given that job because of ESPN’s "crappy longtime record on diversity."
The recording was leaked internally at ESPN, which caused an uproar among employees. According to the New York Times, which reported on ESPN’s internal response just two weeks before Taylor’s contract was set to expire, ESPN didn’t handle the situation well, making promises to Taylor that they almost immediately broke.
Taylor’s contract was originally going to expire before the end of the NBA Finals, but she and ESPN reached an agreement for her to continue until the Finals were over. However, despite ESPN reportedly offering her $3 million to stay with the network, she’s decided to move on.
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