ESPN host Rachel Nichols issued an apology to colleague Maria Taylor on The Jump Monday, following earlier comments about Taylor that came to light over the weekend.
On Sunday, The New York Times reported on a conversation Nichols had with media and athlete adviser Adam Mendelsohn in July 2020. Nichols, who hosts The Jump, lamented Taylor’s increasing NBA coverage at the network, claiming her new role was at least in part due to ESPN's "crappy longtime record on diversity." Taylor, who is Black, served as ESPN's host for coverage of the '20 NBA Finals, an assignment Nichols expected to receive, per the Times.
“I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world—she covers football, she covers basketball,” Nichols said in the audio obtained by The New York Times. “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 added.
Nichols was not disciplined by the network for her comments. She has continued to work as the host of The Jump, where she issued an apology to Taylor, who is Black, on Monday.
“The first thing they teach you in journalism school is don’t be the story, and I don’t plan to break that rule today or distract from a fantastic Finals,” Nichols said. “But 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 part of this outstanding team.”
Nichols received backing from fellow ESPN personalities Kendrick Perkins and Richard Jefferson following her statement.
"I know your heart," Perkins said. "My only hope is that we have a commitment overall to support each other through this process and continue to support each other through our journey.”
Nichols told the Times she has reached out to Taylor personally to apologize via texts and phone calls. The messages have not been returned.
Taylor has been with ESPN since 2013. She is one of the network's lead reporters on college football coverage, and she began hosting NBA Countdown in '19. Taylor and Nichols have not appeared on ESPN together since Nichols's comments in '20.