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Maria Taylor leaves ESPN after contract extension could not be reached

Taylor just wrapped hosting the 2021 NBA Finals. Officials said that was her last assignment for the network.
Credit: AP
ESPN's Maria Taylor works from the sideline during the first half of an NCAA college football game between Miami and Florida Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

BRISTOL, Conn. — ESPN and Maria Taylor jointly announced Wednesday that the sideline reporter, host and analyst will be moving on from the network.

Officials confirmed that after much discussion, a contract extension could not be reached.

The announcement comes after controversial statements made by a colleague regarding diversity were leaked earlier this month.

RELATED: Report alleges 'fallout' at ESPN after leaked recording of Rachel Nichols' comments on diversity

According to a New York Times report, one of ESPN's broadcasters, Rachel Nichols was heard on a recording suggesting that Taylor was given a hosting assignment to help the network with its diversity efforts.

Shortly after that report and just before tip off of the 2021 NBA Finals, ESPN announced Nichols would not serve as the sideline reporter and instead assigned Malika Andrews to handle those duties. 

RELATED: ESPN moves Rachel Nichols off NBA Finals sideline coverage amid controversy

Taylor released the following statement after announcing her decision:

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

Taylor just wrapped hosting the 2021 NBA Finals. Officials said that was her last assignment for the network.

Jimmy Pitaro, Chairman of ESPN and Sports Content said there is no doubt they will miss her.

"Maria’s remarkable success speaks directly to her abilities and work ethic," Pitaro wrote. "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.”

According to the National Association of Black Journalists, Pitaro will be meeting with their leadership in August to discuss the multiple challenges facing ESPN and what the network plans to do, in collaboration with NABJ, to address them.

"Our members who either work at ESPN or formerly worked at ESPN are sharing with us deeply troubling stories of their experience there," NABJ President Dorothy Tucker said in a statement. "We are obviously disturbed by what we are hearing and are eager to meet with ESPN to assist them in long-overdue changes that will lead to a positive work environment for Black journalists and media professionals."

It is unclear at this time where Taylor is headed next.

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