Sports journalist Maria Taylor is leaving ESPN, the network announced on Wednesday.
ESPN and Taylor jointly announced that after weeks of discussion, an agreement on a contract extension between the network and the rising reporter and host, who was reportedly seeking more than the $5 million she made last year, could not be reached.
Taylor’s last assignment for ESPN was Tuesday night’s NBA Finals telecast, the network said.
“Maria’s remarkable success speaks directly to her abilities and work ethic,” said Jimmy Pitaro, chairman of ESPN for content. “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 thanked ESPN as part of the announcement of her departure.
“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,” she said. “Words are inadequate to express my boundless appreciation, and I hope to make them proud.”
Taylor’s departure comes after The New York Times published audio recordings of her colleague Rachel Nichols making negative comments about Taylor and the sports network’s efforts to increase diversity.
On the recordings, Nichols was lamenting that Taylor had been chosen to host the network’s coverage of the NBA Finals on parent company ABC.