NBC quickly hires Maria Taylor after her departure from ESPN

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FILE – In this Aug. 24, 2019, file photo, ESPN’s Maria Taylor works from the sideline during the first half of an NCAA college football game between Miami and Florida in Orlando, Fla. Taylor is leaving ESPN after the two sides were unable to reach an agreement on a contract extension. Taylor had been with ESPN since 2014 but her contract expired Tuesday, July 20, 2021. Her last assignment for the network was Tuesday night at the NBA Finals, where she was the pregame and postgame host for the network’s “NBA Countdown” show. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File)

Maria Taylor has joined NBC less than a week after her contract with ESPN expired.

NBC formally made the announcement during its primetime Olympic show Friday before a replay of the opening ceremony.

ESPN and Taylor announced Wednesday that they could not agree on a new contract. Her first assignment for NBC will be the Tokyo Olympics, where she will join Mike Tirico during the nightly 2 1/2 to 3 hours of “Prime Plus” coverage as well as serve as a correspondent.

NBC also said that Taylor will be a host and contributor for “Football Night in America” on Sundays during NFL season and will host the network’s coverage of this season’s Super Bowl.

“Maria has excelled in a wide range of roles at marquee events, and will be a powerful addition to our team. We are always looking to improve, and Maria is going to make us better. We are very excited for her to join us right away in Tokyo,” NBC Sports chairman Pete Bevacqua said in a statement.

Taylor had been with ESPN since 2014 but her contract expired Tuesday. Her last assignment for the network was Tuesday night at the NBA Finals, where she was the pregame and postgame host for the network’s “NBA Countdown” show. Taylor had hosted “NBA Countdown” since 2019 as well as being a reporter for “College GameDay” and ABC “Saturday Night Football” since 2017.

Taylor said in a statement: “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. And I plan to pay it forward.”

ESPN had been discussing a contract with Taylor for over a year but things reached a boiling point over the past month. Taylor rejected an extension last year and the two sides were far apart heading into the NBA Finals. Then came a report from The New York Times detailing comments colleague Rachel Nichols made about Taylor last year during the NBA’s restart in Florida.

Nichols, who is white, was introduced in September 2019 as the NBA Finals host but the network later decided to promote Taylor, who is Black.

Nichols said in an accidentally recorded phone call obtained by the Times: “I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world — she covers football, she covers basketball. 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.”

Nichols apologized July 5 while hosting “The Jump.” She was slated to be the sideline reporter for the Finals, but was pulled off the assignment.

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