NBC officially announces hiring of Maria Taylor, featuring her on-air during Olympic opening ceremonies coverage. CONGRATULATIONS TO A GREAT INDIVIDUAL, A GREAT ANALYST, AND A WONDERFUL BELOVED WOMAN OF THE SPORTS WORLD

NBC officially announces hiring of Maria Taylor, featuring her on-air during Olympic opening ceremonies coverage. CONGRATULATIONS TO A GREAT INDIVIDUAL, A GREAT ANALYST, AND A WONDERFUL BELOVED WOMAN OF THE SPORTS WORLD

NBC officially announces hiring of Maria Taylor, featuring her on-air during Olympic opening ceremonies coverage

Mike Tirico and Maria Taylor.
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On Friday, NBC announced the hiring of former ESPN reporter and host Maria Taylor, which had been expected since her official departure from ESPN Wednesday. Taylor will start her role at NBC with the Olympics, and will also be a part of the network’s NFL coverage and their coverage of other sports. NBC formally made the announcement during its (tape-delayed) coverage of the Olympic opening ceremonies Friday night. Here’s host Mike Tirico introducing Taylor (who was at another NBC broadcasting location in Tokyo, the Tokyo Bay Terrace), and Taylor setting up a segment on the U.S. women’s gymnastics team:

Maria Taylor, whose work has already included many of the biggest events in sports, joins NBC Sports beginning with the Tokyo Olympics. She comes to NBC Sports after nearly a decade at ABC/ESPN, where she most recently hosted the NBA Finals earlier this week.

Highlighted by host roles for the Olympics and the NFL – including as a host and contributor for Football Night in America and Super Bowls – Taylor will work across premier NBC Sports properties. In Tokyo, her very first assignment as part of the NBC Sports team, she will join Mike Tirico as host for Prime Plus, and will also serve as a correspondent.

“Maria has excelled in a wide range of roles at marquee events, and will be a powerful addition to our team. 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,” said Pete Bevacqua, Chairman, NBC Sports.

“Incredibly excited to have the opportunity to work with Pete, Molly, Sam, Fred, and the entire NBC Sports family,” Taylor said. “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 path possible. And I plan to pay it forward.”

The hiring of Taylor is undoubtedly a coup for NBC, and one that the network reportedly wanted to push over the line prior to the end of the NBA Finals. That didn’t happen, with Taylor staying at ESPN through the end of the Finals on Tuesday before the network announced her departure on Wednesday morning.

Over the last month or so, the situation regarding Taylor’s contract has spiraled. ESPN’s initial extension offer to Taylor reportedly took a significant cut this summer as the end of her deal approached with Disney in cost-cutting mode. Soon after, news of Rachel Nichols’ comments from 2020 surfaced, leading to an on-air apology from Nichols to Taylor and controversy about ESPN’s treatment of Black employees.

Taylor’s departure now leaves two significant holes: the NBA Countdown hosting position and the top college football reporter position. ESPN has some time to fill the former job, with Nichols, Malika Andrews, and Cassidy Hubbarth just three internal options, but only a matter of weeks to replace Taylor on their college football coverage. They have plenty of possibilities internally, including (but not limited to) Molly McGrath, Holly Rowe, and Allison Williams.


Maria Taylor Joins NBC Sports, Makes Debut During Olympics Opening Ceremony Coverage

Taylor had left ESPN earlier this week after the two sides were unable to come to terms on a new contract, and after a dispute involving fellow ESPN reporter Rachel Nichols spilled into public view.

Just a few days after leaving ESPN, Maria Taylor has found a new TV home.

Taylor has joined NBC Sports, making her debut for the network during its primetime coverage of the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremonies. Taylor, who covered the NBA Finals earlier in the week, was in Tokyo for the Olympics by Friday.

“It is an honor to be a part of this team, and the Olympic legacy,” Taylor said, after being introduced by Mike Tirico.

NBC says Taylor will be a host for its NFL and Olympics coverage, including for Sunday Football Night in America and the network’s Super Bowl coverage. At the Olympics, she will be a correspondent and join Tirico as co-host for the network’s Prime Plus coverage.

“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 path possible,” Taylor said in a statement. “And I plan to pay it forward.”

The host and reporter, who led ESPN’s pregame show NBA Countdown, departed after the two sides were unable to come to terms on a new contract. Her exit follows a dispute that became public earlier this month involving fellow ESPN reporter Rachel Nichols, which spilled into view after leaked audio was published by The New York Times.

The audio, which saw Nichols suggesting that Taylor got a high-profile job as the host of NBA Countdown because ESPN was “feeling pressure about [its] crappy longtime record on diversity,” forced ESPN chief Jimmy Pitaro to send a memo to staff at the company addressing the matter.

“We respect and acknowledge there are a variety of feelings about what happened and the actions we took,” Pitaro wrote in the memo. “The details of what took place last year are confidential, nuanced and complicated personnel matters. But understand this — we have a much better story than what you’ve seen this week.”

In the end, NBC will be the beneficiary of the falling out between Taylor and ESPN.

NBC Quickly Hires Maria Taylor After Her Departure From ESPN

Maria Taylor reports on the sidelines of a college football game.
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Maria Taylor reports during the Allstate Sugar Bowl College Football Playoff Semifinal between the Ohio State Buckeyes and Clemson Tigers on January 1, 2021 in New Orleans, LA.

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)

Maria Taylor
Maria Taylor 1 (cropped).jpg
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Taylor in 2015
Suzette Maria Taylor

May 12, 1987 (age 34)

Alma mater University of Georgia
Occupation Sideline Reporter
Years active 2009–present

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.

Early life

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.[1]

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.[1] 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.[2]


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.[3][4] 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.[5] In 2020, she was the sideline reporter for Pittsburgh Steelers vs New York Giants Monday Night Football opener.[6]

In July 2021, Taylor left ESPN after the 2021 NBA Finals.



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