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Maria Taylor joins NBC Sports after split with ESPN

She left ESPN after failing to reach a contract deal. An ESPN colleague recently apologized for comments about her hosting role in a leaked phone call.
Image: Maria Taylor, 2021 NBA Finals - Milwaukee Bucks v Phoenix Suns
Maria Taylor smiles before the Milwaukee Bucks game against the Phoenix Suns during Game Five of the 2021 NBA Finals at Footprint Center in Phoenix, on July 17, 2021.Joe Murphy / NBAE via Getty Images

Maria Taylor, a sports reporter who recently left ESPN after failing to reach a contract extension, is joining NBC Sports, the company announced Friday.

Taylor's first assignment will be covering the Olympics, the network said. She was welcomed on air during NBC's Olympics coverage.

Taylor left ESPN this week after her contract expired and after she and the network were unable to reach an agreement on an extension, they said in a statement from the company on Wednesday.

She will have host roles in coverage of the Olympics and the NFL, including becoming a host and contributor for "Football Night in America" and Super Bowls, NBC Sports said.

Taylor left ESPN weeks after The New York Times reported that colleague Rachel Nichols in a recorded phone call suggested that Taylor was picked to host last year's NBA Finals because the network was under pressure to address its "crappy longtime record on diversity."

Taylor is Black, and Nichols is white. Nichols apologized to Taylor. The comments were made last year in a leaked phone call and the newspaper published excerpts.

NBC Sports Chairman Pete Bevacqua said in a statement that Taylor "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,” Bevacqua said.

Taylor, in a statement distributed by NBC Sports, said she was "incredibly excited."

"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," Taylor said.