*NBA and NFL analyst/host Maria Taylor have decided to part ways, the network announced Wednesday.
As previously reported on EURweb, ESPN had reportedly offered Taylor a lucrative contract worth $3 million per year, but both parties failed to reach an agreement on a contract extension.
Taylor’s 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.”
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 also commented on her departure from 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.”
The exit comes amid the controversy over reporter Rachel Nichols’ private comments about the network’s decision to have Taylor, who is Black, host the NBA Finals, as reported by Black Enterprise.
In the conversation, Nichols, who is white, expressed frustration that Taylor had been chosen over her to host “NBA Countdown” during last year’s NBA Finals, suggesting that the network made the decision because it was “feeling pressure” on diversity.
“I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world — she covers football, she covers basketball,” Nichols said in July 2020. “If you need to give her more things to do because you are feeling pressure about your crappy longtime record on diversity — which, by the way, I know personally from the female side of it — like, go for it. Just find it somewhere else. You are not going to find it from me or taking my thing away.”
Taylor didn’t announce where she’s going next. According to the New York Post, she is close to signing a contract with NBC.