NBC Quickly Hires Maria Taylor After Her Departure From ESPN
Maria Taylor has joined NBC less than a week after her contract with ESPN expired.
NBC is formally making the announcement during its primetime Olympic show Friday before a replay of the opening ceremony.
Taylor had been with ESPN since 2014 but her contract expired Tuesday. Her last assignment for the network was Tuesday night at the NBA Finals, where she was the pregame and postgame host for the network’s “NBA Countdown” show.
ESPN and Taylor announced Wednesday that they could not agree on a new contract. Her first assignment for NBC will be the Tokyo Olympics.
Taylor had hosted “NBA Countdown” since 2019 as well as being a reporter for “College GameDay” and ABC “Saturday Night Football” since 2017.
ESPN had been discussing a contract with Taylor for over a year but things reached a boiling point over the past month. Taylor rejected an extension last year and the two sides were far apart heading into the NBA Finals. Then came a New York Times report detailing comments her colleague Rachel Nichols made about Taylor last year during the NBA’s restart in Florida.
Nichols said in an accidentally recorded phone call obtained by the Times: “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.”
Maria Taylor (analyst)
Suzette Maria Taylor
May 12, 1987
Alpharetta, Georgia, U.S.
|Alma mater||University of Georgia|
Suzette Maria Taylor (born May 12, 1987) is an American TV host. She has worked for ESPN and the SEC Network. She has covered college football, college volleyball, National Basketball Association (NBA), National Football League (NFL), and men’s and women’s college basketball.
Taylor was born on May 12, 1987 to Steve and Suzette Taylor. While attending Centennial High School, Taylor had a successful four-year basketball career in which she received many accolades. Among the awards were being a member of the Atlanta Tip-Off Team of the Year, being a Fulton County Scholar Athlete of the Year, Offensive MVP of her high school volleyball team for three years, a three-time All-Region Selection, and being named All-State as a senior. Taylor was additionally selected to be a member of the 2004 USA Volleyball Junior National A2 team.
Taylor received an athletic scholarship to the University of Georgia, where she continued to play volleyball and basketball from 2005-2009. While at Georgia she was named a member of the All-SEC volleyball team each season. She also continued to play for the US Volleyball Junior National A2 team, and helped them win a bronze medal during the Open Division of the US Volleyball Championships. By the time her playing days were done in the fall of 2008, Taylor ranked fourth all-time in program history in career kills with 1,729 and was fourth all-time in total points with 2,020. She is 6’2″ in height.
Prior to 2012, Taylor was reporter and host for IMG College at the University of Georgia for three years. She also appeared on various studio shows including Dawg Report, SEC Men’s Basketball Tonight, and SportsNite.
In 2013, Taylor was the sideline reporter on ESPN2’s weekly Saturday-night primetime college football telecast in addition to the Orange Bowl, her second consecutive year covering the annual bowl game. She has been an analyst on the NCAA Women’s Basketball Selection Show, NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament Preview Show and also ESPN’s coverage of both the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament and Women’s Volleyball National Championship for the previous two years.
Taylor joined the SEC Network in 2014. She was a college football reporter on SEC Network with commentator Brent Musburger and Jesse Palmer, and was also an analyst on other SEC telecasts including volleyball and women’s basketball. In 2017, Maria joined the ESPN College GameDay broadcast team as reporter and host, replacing Samantha Ponder (who became the host of Sunday NFL Countdown), and was an ESPN host and reporter for the College Football Playoff between the University of Georgia and the University of Oklahoma. Subsequently, she was a host and reporter for the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship between the University of Alabama and the University of Georgia. Taylor was the sideline reporter for Saturday Night Football on ABC, with Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit calling the game from the booth.
In 2019, Taylor began hosting NBA Countdown, the pre-game show for ESPN’s Friday night and Sunday afternoon NBA games. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, ESPN scrapped its original plan for The Jump, hosted by Rachel Nichols, to serve as the NBA Finals pregame show, and instead named Taylor’s NBA Countdown the Finals pregame and halftime show. In 2020, she was the sideline reporter for Pittsburgh Steelers vs New York Giants Monday Night Football opener.
In July 2021, Taylor left ESPN after the 2021 NBA Finals.