“We mutually agreed that this approach regarding our NBA coverage was best for all concerned,” David Roberts, ESPN’s senior vice president of production, told the outlet in a statement on Wednesday (Aug. 25). “Rachel is an excellent reporter, host and journalist, and we thank her for her many contributions to our NBA content.”
The news comes over a month after The New York Times released leaked audio of Nichols implying that Maria Taylor only received her position as a 2020 NBA Finals host because she was Black and ESPN felt pressure because of its “crappy longtime record on diversity.”
“I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world — she covers football, she covers basketball,” Nichols said in the audio. “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.”
Although ESPN reportedly knew about Nichols’ comments, The Times reports that she was not disciplined. The only person who was punished for the audio was Kayla Johnson, a Black digital video producer who sent the video to Taylor. Johnson was suspended for two weeks without pay.
Weeks after the audio leaked, Taylor left ESPN to join NBC Sports to work as a correspondent during the Tokyo Olympics and to co-host the Olympic recap show “Prime Plus.” The network said Taylor will also host and contribute to their Sunday NFL pregame show “Football Night in America” and host their Super Bowl coverage.
“Literally, hosting the Olympics, ‘Football Night in America’ and the Super Bowl is what I dreamed of when I started in television — and this would not be possible without standing on the shoulders of all of those who came before me and made this path possible,” Taylor previously said in a statement. “And I plan to pay it forward.”