ESPN has reportedly cancelled sports host Rachel Nichols’ show, The Jump, and removed her from all NBA programming, according to CBS News, leaving her career at the sports’ network in question after being recorded in a phone call last month suggesting Maria Taylor, a Black colleague, only got a job because of her race.
Nichols, who helmed the program for five years, was previously removed from sideline reporting. ESPN senior vice president David Roberts told Sports Business Journal about the latest move.
Since the incident, Taylor has left the network and joined NBC.
“We mutually agreed that this approach regarding our NBA coverage was best for all concerned,” Roberts said to the outlet. “Rachel is an excellent reporter, host and journalist, and we thank her for her many contributions to our NBA content.”
A year was left on Nichols' contract, but according to The Athletic, it is unclear if she will appear on ESPN further during that time.
Nichols tweeted about her departure, writing, “The Jump was never built to last forever, but it sure was fun.”
Clips obtained by The New York Times showed Nichols talking to LeBron James’ advisor Adam Mendelsohn while she was in the NBA bubble last July. According to The New York Post, Nichols was unaware her video camera was on while she was on the phone and it was recorded and uploaded to an ESPN server.
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“I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world — she covers football, she covers basketball,” Nichols said in one clip. “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.”
She added: “I just want them to go somewhere else — it’s in my contract, by the way; this job is in my contract in writing.”
On (July 5), during the opening of The Jump, Nichols made an on-air apology to Taylor.
“So the first thing they teach you in journalism school is don’t be the story. And I don’t plan to break that rule today or distract from a fantastic Finals,” Nichols said. “But I also don’t want to let this moment pass without saying how much I respect, how much I value our colleagues here at ESPN. How deeply, deeply sorry I am for disappointing those I hurt, particularly Maria Taylor, and how grateful I am to be part of this outstanding team.”
The Times reports many ESPN employees were “outraged” by Nichols’ comments in the video with one telling the newspaper that Nichols not being punished over her comments was “an active source of pain.”