Sports reporter Maria Taylor is leaving ESPN after she and the network failed to reach an agreement on a contract extension, the company announced Wednesday.
“So thankful to Jimmy [Pitaro] 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 in a statement. “Words are inadequate to express my boundless appreciation, and I hope to make them proud.”
Earlier this month, the network announced that Taylor would return as the pregame and halftime host for the NBA Finals, which wrapped Tuesday night with the Milwaukee Bucks taking the championship.
ESPN said in its statement Wednesday that Taylor’s last assignment for the network was her Finals telecast during Game 6.
“Maria’s remarkable success speaks directly to her abilities and work ethic. 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,” network chairman Jimmy Pitaro said in a statement.
The departure comes weeks after Taylor’s colleague, ESPN broadcaster Rachel Nichols, apologized for suggesting that Taylor was picked to host last year’s Finals because the network was under pressure to address its “crappy longtime record on diversity.” Taylor is Black.