Maria Taylor Leaves ESPN Following Fallout Over Leaked Rachel Nichols Audio Clip | THR News

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The Hollywood Reporter 21 July, 2021 - 04:04pm 6 views

Did Maria Taylor get a new contract?

ESPN said Wednesday that it is parting ways NBA Countdown and NBA Finals host Maria Taylor after failing to come to terms on a contract extension. ... “Maria's remarkable success speaks directly to her abilities and work ethic,” said Jimmy Pitaro, Chairman, ESPN and Sports Content, in a memo today. DeadlineMaria Taylor To Exit ESPN After Contract Extension Talks Fail

Read full article at The Hollywood Reporter

Maria Taylor leaves ESPN following Rachel Nichols comments

CNN 22 July, 2021 - 02:10am

Updated 6:57 PM ET, Wed July 21, 2021

Malika Andrews Considered Strong Candidate To Become Next Countdown Host

RealGM.com 22 July, 2021 - 02:10am

by Colin McGowan

by John Wilmes

by Rafael Uehara

by Jack Tien-Dana

Tools and Resources Used by Real General Managers.

Malika Andrews is viewed as a strong candidate to replace Maria Taylor as host of NBA Countdown. 

Andrews replaced Rachel Nichols as ABC's sideline reporter for the NBA Finals. ESPN executives previously hand-picked her to serve as one of the first reporters inside the NBA “bubble” last year.

But Andrews has never anchored or hosted a show as her primary experience has been as a reporter. 

Nichols is not in the running for the Countdown job.

Tags: NBA

Fans praise 'brilliant' Malika Andrews after ESPN removes Rachel Nichols from NBA Finals coverage

MEAWW 22 July, 2021 - 02:10am

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© 2021 MEAWW All rights reserved

Rachel Nichols is no longer ESPN's NBA Finals reporter after her racist comments against colleague Maria Taylor

In leaked audio, Nichols, who is White, reportedly criticized ESPN for picking Taylor, who is Black, to report on the sidelines of the NBA Finals over her.  "If you need to give her more things to do because you're feeling pressure about your crappy longtime record on diversity which, by the way, I myself know personally like, go for it, just find it somewhere else," the recording said. Later, Nichols apologized on 'The Jump', a show she co-hosts on ESPN.  "I also don't want to let this moment pass without saying how deeply, deeply sorry I am for disappointing those I hurt, particularly Maria Taylor," she said. Later, it was revealed that instead of Nichols, reporter Malika Andrews will give sideline reports. ESPN also announced that Nichols will still host "The Jump" during the NBA Finals.

As soon as the game started on Tuesday, July 20, people started making fun of Nichols and praised Andrews for her reporting style. One person posted a funny gif and wrote, "Rachel Nichols watching Malika Andrews present the finals trophy to perfection." While one said, "I know Rachel Nichols just threw a White Claw at her TV just now." Another one made fun of Nichols and tweeted, "I bet Rachel Nichols at home mad asf she ain't covering this finals."

Rachel Nichols watching Malika Andrews present the finals trophy to perfection pic.twitter.com/Zo3O97xtCx

I know Rachel Nichols just threw a White Claw at her TV just now.

I bet Rachel Nichols at home mad asf she ain't covering this finals 🤣🤣

Praising Andrews, one person said, "Giannis wasn’t the only MVP tonight, 26-year-old Malika Andrews has seemingly made Rachel Nichols irrelevant going forward." Another one tweeted, "Just a reminder, Malika Andrews REPLACED Rachel Nichols as the sideline reporter for the NBA Finals. Great choice ESPN, great choice."

Giannis wasn’t the only MVP tonight, 26-year-old Malika Andrews has seemingly made Rachel Nichols irrelevant going forward.

Just a reminder, Malika Andrews REPLACED Rachel Nichols as the sideline reporter for the NBA Finals. Great choice ESPN, great choice. 😊 pic.twitter.com/9gQZUsa7Ix

One person said, "We ain’t forget, Rachel Nichols." While one person suggested that, "Rachel nichols crying at home on the couch rn LOL" Another one tweeted, "This was supposed to be Rachel Nichols thank the heavens for Malika."

rachel nichols crying at home on the couch rn LOL https://t.co/ljXeEmyuwM

This was supposed to be Rachel Nichols 😂 thank the heavens for Malika

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Maria Taylor Is Leaving ESPN After A Colleague's Remarks About Race Went Public

NPR 21 July, 2021 - 11:51am

ESPN host Maria Taylor has announced she is leaving the sports network just weeks after remarks by a colleague suggesting that Taylor was promoted because she is Black became public.

Taylor and ESPN announced the departure in a statement Wednesday, saying "that after much discussion, an agreement on a contract extension could not be reached."

According to ESPN, Taylor's final appearance for the network was Tuesday night's NBA Finals telecast.

In early July, The New York Times reported on a recording of a conversation by ESPN reporter Rachel Nichols. In the July 2020 recording, Nichols, who is white, is heard suggesting that Taylor got her job hosting the marquee program NBA Countdown during the NBA finals because she is Black.

"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," Nichols said in the recording. "Just find it somewhere else. You are not going to find it from me or taking my thing away."

She was speaking with NBA star LeBron James' longtime adviser Adam Mendelsohn and James' agent Rich Paul.

Nichols was removed from her assignment after the comments became public.

She later apologized on the show The Jump, saying she respected her ESPN colleagues and noting that she was "deeply, deeply sorry" for "disappointing those I hurt, particularly Maria Taylor."

In a statement shared by ESPN, Taylor thanked her colleagues and friends "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 added.

Jimmy Pitaro, chairman of ESPN and Sports Content, praised Taylor's skills and her work at the network.

"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," he said in a statement.

Maria Taylor leaves ESPN as sides can't agree on contract

Daily Mail 21 July, 2021 - 11:32am

By Reuters

ESPN and on-air personality Maria Taylor jointly announced Wednesday that the two parties couldn't reach an agreement on a contract extension and she has left the network. 

Her appearance Tuesday night on the NBA Finals telecast was her final one for the network. Taylor's future with the network has been a mystery since The New York Times revealed earlier this month that her colleague and fellow ESPN anchor Rachel Nichols was recorded on a live microphone in 2020 suggesting that Taylor received certain assignments because she is black. 

No announcement about Taylor's next place of employment was made, but rumors have swirled that she will join NBC immediately in time to assist with its coverage of the Olympics in Tokyo, according to the New York Post

ESPN and on-air personality Maria Taylor jointly announced Wednesday that the two parties couldn't reach an agreement on a contract extension and she has left the network

Taylor's future with the network has been a mystery since The New York Times revealed earlier this month that her colleague and fellow ESPN anchor Rachel Nichols (pictured) was recorded on a live microphone in 2020 suggesting that Taylor received certain assignments because she is African American

'Maria's remarkable success speaks directly to her abilities and work ethic,' said Jimmy Pitaro, ESPN's chairman, in a news release. '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 has been with ESPN since 2014, beginning as a college analyst and reporter. She later added duties as a reporter for College GameDay and ABC Saturday Night Football, then began hosting NBA Countdown.

Over the past few weeks, Taylor herself had become the story, first as news leaked that she and ESPN were millions of dollars apart on contract talks, with ESPN reportedly offering $2 million to $3 million a year and Taylor asking for $8 million.

Then, earlier this month, the Times shared videotaped remarks Nichols made about Taylor a year ago. The comments came after Taylor, who is black, was chosen as the host of the network's 'NBA Countdown' show as the season resumed in the NBA bubble. Nichols, who is white, apparently expected to fill the role. 

Nichols reportedly wasn't aware she was being filmed when she said the following:

Nichols confided in Adam Mendelsohn, a public relations and communications strategist who works with LeBron James 

'I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world -- she covers football, she covers basketball,' Nichols said while speaking to Adam Mendelsohn, a longtime adviser of LeBron James. '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.'

Nichols apologized to Taylor and the network on a following episode of 'The Jump.' Nichols has hosted that show since 2016. She returned to the network that year after working for ESPN from 2004-13.

Nichols was taken off coverage of the NBA Finals this year and replaced by Malika Andrews amid the report.

Taylor, 34, made a farewell statement as part of the ESPN news release.

'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,' she said. 'Words are inadequate to express my boundless appreciation, and I hope to make them proud.'

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Maria Taylor officially leaving ESPN after 'diversity' drama with Rachel Nichols

Yahoo Sports 21 July, 2021 - 11:22am

Dan Wetzel, Pat Forde, Pete Thamel

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According to an ESPN statement, 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. The New York Post reported that Taylor is close to signing a contract with NBC, and could be part of its Olympics coverage.

Taylor was recently at the center of a firestorm about race and gender that she had no hand in creating. Last year, after ESPN gave 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, was given that job only 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, who reported on ESPN's internal response two weeks before Taylor's contract was set to expire, ESPN didn't handle the situation well, making promises to Taylor that it almost immediately broke.

Taylor's contract was originally going to expire before the end of the 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 is moving on. 

Maria Taylor is leaving ESPN after the two sides were unable to reach an agreement on a contract extension. Taylor had been with ESPN since 2014 but her contract expired Tuesday. “So thankful to Jimmy (Pitaro) 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," Taylor said in a statement released through ESPN.

Team USA is still the betting favorite, but has seen its odds take a significant tumble.

ESPN and Maria Taylor, an up-and-coming on-air personality, have parted ways in the wake of an internal controversy that spilled into the public arena and drew new scrutiny of diversity policies at the Disney-owned sports-media giant. “There is no doubt we will miss Maria, but we remain determined to continue to build a deep and […]

ESPN has announced that Maria Taylor’s contract is ending, and an agreement on an extension could not be reached. The […] The post Maria Taylor announces departure from ESPN after Rachel Nichols leak appeared first on TheGrio.

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Maria Taylor, ESPN part ways after failure to agree to contract extension

USA TODAY 21 July, 2021 - 11:11am

Broadcaster Maria Taylor and ESPN have parted ways after both sides failed to agree to a contract extension.

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Fans celebrated after the Milwaukee Bucks won the NBA championship. USA TODAY

Maria Taylor's time at ESPN has officially come to an end. 

Taylor and the network officially parted ways on Wednesday, releasing a joint statement ending speculation that had run rampant for weeks.

“Maria’s remarkable success speaks directly to her abilities and work ethic," Jimmy Pitaro, Chairman, ESPN and Sports Content 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's last assignment for the worldwide leader was Game 6 of the NBA Finals between the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night.

“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 said in a statement.  

The 34-year-old Taylor began at ESPN working for the SEC Network, covering college sports, eventually working her way up to "College GameDay."  She began hosting "NBA Countdown" in 2019.

Multiple media outlets have reported in the past few weeks that NBC was courting Taylor to work on their Olympics and NFL coverage.

Taylor's status with ESPN was in limbo after a July 6 article appeared in The New York Times, when the newspaper obtained the recording of a phone conversation between Rachel Nichols and Adam Mendelsohn, the longtime adviser of the Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James. 

In the conversation, Nichols praised Taylor but also questioned her position at the network because of its not so flattering record with diversity hires. 

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ESPN, Maria Taylor Part Ways After Internal Controversy Became Public

Yahoo Entertainment 21 July, 2021 - 11:05am

“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, ESPN’s chairman, in a prepared statement. “While she chose to pursue a new opportunity, we are proud of the work we’ve done together.”

Taylor’s last on-air appearance for ESPN came Tuesday night during coverage of the last game of the NBA Finals.

Her departure would seem to cap a period of inner discord at ESPN. In July of last year, basketball correspondent Rachel Nichols was caught on video speaking to representatives of LeBron James about ESPN’s decision to have Taylor host ESPN’s basketball report, “NBA Countdown,” during 2020’s NBA Finals. Her comments were recorded by a video camera she had left on and subsequently uploaded into ESPN’s system, where the footage was discovered and distributed by an employee. Nichols was frustrated that she hadn’t gotten the role, and suggested that ESPN’s interest in paying more attention to diversity was a factor in the decision. The matter boiled over after the New York Times reported that some employees who helped produce ESPN’s basketball coverage may have been choosing sides, and has drawn comments from Adam Silver, the NBA Commissioner.

Pitaro tried to put that matter to rest in a recent employee memo. “I do want to be clear on one thing: Maria Taylor was selected as ‘NBA Countdown’ host last year because she earned it,” he said. “Please know our commitment is that assignments and and opportunities at ESPN are based on merit and any concerns, remarks, or inferences that suggest otherwise have been and will continue to be addressed.”

Nichols apologized during a broadcast of her regular basketball program, “The Jump.” “I also don’t want to let this moment pass without saying how much I respect, how much I value our colleagues here at ESPN. How deeply, deeply sorry I am for disappointing those I hurt, particularly Maria Taylor, and how grateful I am to be a part of this team.

Taylor, who is rumored to be in talks with rivals including NBC Sports, said Wednesday she was 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.” She did not offer any word of any future plans.

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Taylor and ESPN were unable to agree on a contract extension.

Maria Taylor is leaving ESPN after the two sides were unable to reach an agreement on a contract extension. Taylor had been with ESPN since 2014 but her contract expired Tuesday. “So thankful to Jimmy (Pitaro) 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," Taylor said in a statement released through ESPN.

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With the N.B.A. Finals Complete, Maria Taylor Leaves ESPN

The New York Times 21 July, 2021 - 11:04am

The popular studio host and reporter was widely expected to depart after disparaging remarks made by a colleague were made public. Her next stop could be NBC.

On Tuesday, she hosted the N.B.A. finals for ESPN. The next day she was gone.

ESPN announced on Wednesday that Maria Taylor, one of the network’s high-profile talents, had left the company.

In an unusually terse news release, Jimmy Pitaro, the chairman of ESPN, acknowledged that Taylor “chose to pursue a new opportunity,” but said that he was “proud of the work we’ve done together.”

The departure had been expected since early this month, when The New York Times reported on disparaging comments made about Taylor by one of her colleagues at ESPN, Rachel Nichols. In a conversation with an adviser to LeBron James that Nichols was unaware was being recorded, Nichols, who is white, said that Taylor, who is Black, had gotten the role of hosting the N.B.A. finals instead of her because ESPN executives were “feeling pressure” on diversity.

The comments, which were made a year ago, festered within ESPN throughout the pro basketball season and caused tension among employees who cover the N.B.A., before boiling over in May. On the first day of the playoffs, Taylor, along with her “NBA Countdown” on-air colleagues, Jalen Rose, Jay Williams and Adrian Wojnarowski, considered boycotting the show in response to a directive from ESPN executives that they believed benefited Nichols.

Taylor’s departure bookends a troublesome N.B.A. finals for ESPN. After The Times reported on the comments by Nichols, she briefly apologized for them; a day before the finals began, she was pulled from her duties as the event’s sideline reporter.

Some N.B.A. players weighed in on social media, and Adam Silver, the commissioner of the N.B.A., was frustrated with how ESPN had handled the situation, saying he thought “ESPN would have found a way to be able to work through it. Obviously not.”

Last week, Pitaro sent a memo to staff that emphasized Taylor was selected to host “NBA Countdown” for the finals on merit alone, and said a future town-hall-style meeting would address issues of diversity and inclusion.

Taylor’s contract situation loomed over the finals. Negotiated years ago, the plan was for the deal to expire during the off-seasons of the N.B.A. and college football — the two main sports she covered for ESPN. The N.B.A. finals were held later than normal because of the coronavirus, putting ESPN in a bind.

Taylor’s contract expired on Tuesday, the day the Milwaukee Bucks clinched the N.B.A. championship in Game 6. Executives had feared the situation becoming messier if they had to replace Taylor for Game 7.

But they were able to work out a deal for Taylor to stay with the company through the end of the finals, and ESPN executives continued trying to re-sign her to a long-term contract until quite recently.

No new destination for Taylor was announced, but she is close to signing an agreement with NBC, according to two people familiar with the negotiations who were not authorized to speak about them publicly. At NBC, Taylor could become the studio host for the N.F.L. pregame show “Football Night in America” and the Super Bowl when it is the network’s turn to broadcast it. The Olympics, tennis and horse racing would also be options at NBC.

Taylor’s departure could force wholesale changes to ESPN’s N.B.A. coverage.

At minimum, the company will have to choose a new host for “NBA Countdown,” its pregame and halftime show, which has changed personnel over the years in an ineffective attempt to catch up with TNT’s widely lauded “Inside the N.B.A.,” or even its own “College GameDay.” It might also have to figure out a new production structure: Just before the season began, in late 2020, the senior producer who ran “NBA Countdown” left ESPN and a vice president above her was laid off.

ESPN also has to decide whether to return Nichols to her role as the main sideline reporter for N.B.A. games next season. She was replaced during the N.B.A. finals by Malika Andrews, who previously worked at The Times.

Taylor’s departure leaves a void in other areas for ESPN. She is also an analyst on “College GameDay,” the sideline reporter for the college football national championship game and hosts coverage of the women’s college basketball tournament and the N.F.L. draft.

Maria Taylor Rachel Nichols

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