Maria Taylor is no longer an ESPN personality. On Wednesday, the 34-year-old TV host announced that an agreement on a contract extension with her and ESPN couldn't be reached and will move on from the company. This comes just weeks after a report by the New York Times revealed a leaked tape where fellow ESPN colleague Rachel Nichols alleged the network gave Taylor the hosting job for the NBA Finals to make up its "crappy longtime record on diversity."
"Maria’s remarkable success speaks directly to her abilities and work ethic," Jimmy Pitaro, Chairman, ESPN and Sports Content, said 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 also released a statement, 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.”
According to the New York Post, Taylor is expected to sign with NBC Sports to work the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, which officially begins on Friday. If a deal does get done, Taylor will likely be covering volleyball and basketball. ESPN reportedly offered $3 million to stat with the company. NBC will likely have Taylor be the future host of Football Night in America while Mike Tirico does more play-by-play work.
It's not clear why Taylor left ESPN after being with the network since 2014. But the situation with Nichols likely didn't make things easier to stay. During her time with ESPN, Taylor was a reporter for the hit college football pregame show College GameDay. She then became hosting NBA Countdown in 2019 and previously served as the host of SEC Network's pregame show SEC Nation. Taylor attended the University of Georgia where she was a reporter and host for IMG College for the school for three years. She also played basketball and volleyball for the Bulldogs.