Sports | July 21, 2021 1:04 pm

ESPN and Maria Taylor Fail to Agree on Contract Extension

Taylor's last assignment for ESPN was last night’s NBA Finals telecast

Former ESPN reporter Maria Taylor on the job in 2017.
Former ESPN reporter Maria Taylor on the job in 2017.
Doug Buffington/Icon Sportswire via Getty

In an announcement on Wednesday morning, ESPN and Maria Taylor jointly shared that an agreement between the two sides on a contract extension could not be reached “after much discussion” and that the 34-year-old’s last assignment for The Worldwide Leader was last night’s NBA Finals telecast.

“Maria’s remarkable success speaks directly to her abilities and work ethic,” said ESPN chairman Jimmy Pitaro. “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.”

Though nothing has been made official, it seems the “new opportunity” Taylor is pursuing that Pitaro referenced in his statement will be with NBC and sports fans could be seeing her as soon as the network’s Olympic coverage begins in earnest on Friday.

“If the NBC deal is finalized, she also could be waiting in the on-deck circle to become the host of Football Night in America when Mike Tirico moves to the full-time Sunday Night Football play-by-play position in the fall of 2022,” per The New York Post. “It is not fully set that Taylor will replace Tirico, but seems as if it could be a potential fit. Taylor could also have a role on Notre Dame football this season.”

 NBC’s top network spokesman is in Japan for the Games and has not commented on the matter.

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

Taylor’s departure from ESPN comes after back-and-forth contract negotiations that were further complicated by a bombshell New York Times report that revealed internal conflict within the sports network due to racially charged comments made by host Rachel Nichols in a leaked phone call.

With Taylor now gone and Nichols possibly serving in a reduced role, at least for a limited time, moving forward, the door is open for 26-year-old Malika Andrews to make her mark at ESPN.