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The move comes about seven weeks after Nichols apologized for complaining in a leaked audio file that then-ESPN colleague Maria Taylor had been named host of ABC’s NBA Countdown, the pregame show for the network’s primetime NBA telecasts.
“We mutually agreed that this approach regarding our NBA coverage was best for all concerned,” David Roberts, senior vp production at ESPN, said in a statement. “Rachel is an excellent reporter, host and journalist, and we thank her for her many contributions to our NBA content.”
In the leaked recording from 2020, which was the subject of a New York Times story July 4, Nichols is heard saying, “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 was subsequently taken off ESPN and ABC’s NBA Finals coverage, with Malika Andrews taking her spot as sideline reporter during the series.
Taylor departed ESPN shortly afterward for NBC Sports, where she was part of the network’s Olympics coverage and will host Football Night in America during the coming NFL season.
Per Sports Business Journal, which first reported the news, Nichols has more than a year remaining on her contract at ESPN but is unlikely to appear on-air.
As for The Jump, it will run for the next couple of weeks (with a different host) before ending. ESPN plans to launch a new NBA show prior to the coming season, which begins Oct. 19.
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