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#pounditMonday, August 2, 2021

Maria Taylor leaving ESPN, reportedly headed to NBC

Maria Taylor

Maria Taylor finished hosting the NBA Finals for ESPN on Tuesday night, and that will be her last assignment with the network.

Taylor and ESPN both released statements on Wednesday announcing that they could not come to an agreement on a contract extension. ESPN chairman Jimmy Pitaro thanked Taylor and complimented her on her “remarkable success.” Taylor’s statement also indicated that the split was amicable.

“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,” Taylor wrote. “Words are inadequate to express my boundless appreciation, and I hope to make them proud.”

The statements came not long after Andrew Marchand of the New York Post reported that Taylor is leaving ESPN to work for NBC. The 34-year-old is expected to be a part of NBC’s coverage of the Tokyo Olympics, which begin on Friday.

Marchand says Taylor could also become the host of “Football Night in America” when Mike Tirico takes over for Al Michaels as the play-by-play announcer for “Sunday Night Football.”

Taylor’s days with ESPN appeared to be numbered when she reportedly turned down $5 million per year from the network. She was said to be seeking Stephen A. Smith money, and we recently got a better idea of just how much that would be.

Then on July 4, a private audio recording was leaked to the New York Times of Rachel Nichols suggesting that ESPN stripped her of her contractual NBA Finals hosting role and gave it to Taylor to make up for their past poor record on diversity.

Marchand reports that Nichols will receive consideration to get her former job back as NBA Finals host with ESPN. Nichols illustrated with her recent social media activity that she has received a great deal of backlash over the Taylor controversy.

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