A day after wrapping up NBA Finals coverage, ESPN’s Maria Taylor parts ways with the sports network.
According to a statement, the announcement comes after a contract extension between ESPN and the seasoned journalist couldn’t be reached.
The negotiations to renew Taylor’s contract gained attention earlier this month. The New York Times reported on a leaked audio conversation, which revealed that a former colleague asserted Taylor got a promotion because of ESPN’s poor record on diversity.
Taylor and the former co-host, Rachel Nichols, were both selected to host NBA Countdown, ESPN’s marquee NBA show. Taylor was ultimately chosen to host NBA Countdown alone, while Nichols was selected for sideline reporting and left off of the NBA Finals coverage.
Nichols, a white journalist, wasn’t reprimanded for her remarks, but a black ESPN employee who reportedly shared the conversation with Taylor, was the only one fired, the Times reported. This controversy— and ESPN’s handling of race and Black journalists generally— may have played into Taylor’s decision to part ways.
WATCH: Sports journalist Maria Taylor joins an ESSENCE Festival of Culture 2021 Panel on women succeeding in the sports business.
Upon leaving the network, Taylor said in a statement “So thankful to Jimmy [Pitaro, ESPN Chairman] 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’s next move hasn’t been announced, but reports are that NBC Sports will nab the talented journalist.