ESPN’s Maria Taylor could be taking her talents to another network very soon.
Taylor, who currently hosts NBA Countdown, is considering signing a deal with NBC Sports, USA Today reports.
The deal is at the “half-yard line,” a source told Front Office Sports but “that can still be a long way in contract negotiations.”
The executive team at NBC wants Taylor to join the network as soon as July 23 to help with the coverage of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Her ESPN contract ends on July 20, which is Game 6 of the NBA Finals.
It was reported that ESPN has offered Taylor a contract in the neighborhood of $3 million per year, but she rejected the offer, in search of a deal that Stephen A. Smith signed. Smith’s contract reportedly pays him $12 million annually.
Both NBC, as well as Amazon, had expressed interest in Taylor. At NBC, Taylor could succeed Mike Tirico, who currently hosts Football Night in America. Following this season, Tirico is expected to replace Al Michaels on Sunday Night Football in 2022-23.
EBONY previously reported that Taylor was embroiled in public controversy with her colleague at ESPN Rachel Nichols. The New York Times first broke the story that more than a year ago, Nichols was heard on a recording insinuating that Taylor was only hired because of ESPN’s record on diversity and inclusion.
Taylor was selected to lead ESPN’s coverage of the Finals instead of Nichols.
As tension began to rise in a memo obtained by the New York Post, Jimmy Pitaro addressed ESPN’s move to pick Taylor to lead the Finals coverage.
“I do want to be clear on one thing: Maria Taylor was selected as NBA Countdown host last year because she earned it,” the ESPN chairman stated. “Please know our commitment is that assignments and opportunities at ESPN are based on merit and any concerns, remarks, or inferences that suggest otherwise have been and will continue to be addressed.”
“It’s the way you treat your colleagues, how you champion your team, how you welcome new ideas and people, and how you make others feel,” he continued. “Each of us is responsible for creating a culture and climate that thrives,” he wrote.
When the news went public earlier this month about the internal issues of the largest sports network, ESPN immediately replaced Nichols as the sideline reporter for the NBA Finals with Malika Andrews.
Nichols later apologized to Taylor on ESPN’s The Jump.