Maria Taylor Splits with ESPN, Reportedly Likely to Join NBC Sports

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ESPN and Maria Taylor announced Wednesday that the two parties could not reach an agreement on a contract extension and Tuesday night's NBA Finals assignment was her last at ESPN.

According to the New York Post's Andrew Marchand, Taylor is expected to join NBC.

News of Taylor likely heading to NBC was first reported last week by Front Office Sports' Michael McCarthy.

According to the Post, if a contract with NBC is completed, Taylor is expected to be part of its forthcoming Olympic coverage. She also could reportedly participate in the network's “Football Night in America" broadcast and Notre Dame football assignments. 

Taylor was with ESPN for seven years and served as one of the stars on "College GameDay" and as the host for "NBA Countdown." She also hosted the network's NCAA women's basketball tournament coverage and did sideline coverage for the college football national championship game.

Her exit from ESPN comes as Taylor was linked to controversy surrounding herself and ESPN host Rachel Nichols. A recent New York Times report detailed a conversation from last July, in which Nichols lamented Taylor’s increased NBA coverage at the network. Nichols also claimed in that conversation, which was with media and athlete adviser Adam Mendelsohn and recorded onto an ESPN server without Nichols's knowledge, that Taylor's additional responsibility was due at least in part to ESPN's "crappy longtime record on diversity."

In the aftermath of The Times report, Nichols was taken off her sideline reporting assignment for this year's NBA Finals. According to The Times, Nichols had reached out to Taylor personally to apologize via texts and phone calls, but the messages have not been returned. 

Taylor continued hosting "NBA Countdown" on-site during this year's Finals. Nichols, per the Post, will not be considered to replace Taylor as the Finals’ host.

"During the dark times I always remember that I am in this position to open doors and light the path that others walk down," Taylor wrote in an early July social media post shared on Twitter and Instagram. "I’ve taken some punches but that just means I’m still in the fight. Remember to lift as you climb and always KEEP RISING."

ESPN chairman Jimmy Pitaro said in a statement Wednesday that, Taylor'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. While she chose to pursue a new opportunity, we are proud of the work we’ve done together.”

According to the Post, ESPN tried to keep Taylor, offering her a raise from $1 million to the neighborhood of $3 million. Last year, ESPN reportedly made Taylor an offer that would have topped her salary at near $5 million. Per the Post, she chose not to negotiate at the time.

Taylor said in an official statement Wednesday that, 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.”

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