Sports reporter Maria Taylor has accepted a new role at NBC Sports following failed contract negotiations with ESPN.
The longtime football reporter made her first NBC appearance as she covered opening day of the Olympic Games in Tokyo on July 23. According to the network, Taylor will also take on duties of hosting and contributing to “Football in America,” Super Bowls, and NFL coverage. Whispers of her mulling over a possible opportunity with network began circulating mid-July.
“Maria has excelled in a wide range of roles at marquee events, and will be a powerful addition to our team,” said Pete Bevacqua, chairman of NBC Sports. “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.
For a decade Taylor covered professional and collegiate football, as well as other sports, at ESPN. She most recently covered the NBA playoffs and Finals, a gig she first landed last season. However, the experienced reporter was thrust into a storm of headlines over a month ago when leaked audio of a phone former colleague Rachel Nichols was publicized by The New York Times and other outlets. In the recording, which took place in July 2020, Nichols is heard insinuating that Taylor was only given the opportunity to hosts the 2020 playoffs as a diversity hire.
ESPN attempted to smooth things over in-house, but a resolution ultimately was not met before the public was able to cast judgment. Going into the 2021 playoffs Taylor’s contract with the ESPN was set to expire, sparking weeks of negotiations of a possible extension. In the end, Taylor opted to move on to new opportunities.
While appearing during the day one of Olympic coverage she said it was a “dream come true.”
“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 possible without standing on the shoulders of all of those who came before me and made this path possible. And I lean to pay it forward,” she said in released statement.
Taylor’s supportive following, many of whom had hoped she would leave ESPN, were equally thrilled to see she landed on her feet at NBC Sports.