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Rachel Nichols wasted no time issuing an apology to ESPN and Maria Taylor after her comments were made public. She opened her “The Jump” program with a statement, saying how she was “deeply, deeply sorry” for “disappointing those I hurt — particularly Maria Taylor — and how grateful I am to be part of this outstanding team.” Meanwhile, ESPN chairman Jimmy Pitaro wrote in a memo addressed to the staff that the network is taking concrete steps to “improve the experiences of Black employees at ESPN” and that “Maria Taylor was selected as NBA Countdown host last year because she earned it,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.
But all these had little impact on Taylor’s decision to move on from ESPN. According to The New York Post, Taylor was initially offered $5 million to extend her contract, a significant bump from her salary of almost $1 million. However, sources say that Taylor wanted “Stephen A. Smith” money, which is reportedly in the range of $8 million.
The two parties reached an impasse and eventually announced in a joint statement that they were severing ties. “Maria’s remarkable success speaks directly to her abilities and work ethic. There is no doubt we will miss Maria… While she chose to pursue a new opportunity, we are proud of the work we’ve done together,” Pitaro said, while Taylor commented: “So thankful to Jimmy and all of my great teammates and friends… the people who believed in me, encouraged me, pushed me, and lifted me up.”