News, Culture and Opportunities

Rachel Nichols Out at ESPN One Month After Diversity Scandal

Rachel Nichols, the ESPN reporter, caught in leaked audio blasting the network for giving her on-air gig to a black reporter, is out at the sports cable network, according to a report.

John Ourand at Sports Business Journal reports that Nichols and ESPN have parted ways via a “mutual decision” to end their relationship.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JANUARY 09: ESPN television host/moderator Rachel Nichols speaks during a press event at CES 2019 at the Aria Resort & Casino on January 9, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. CES, the world’s largest annual consumer technology trade show, runs through January 11 and features about 4,500 exhibitors showing off their latest products and services to more than 180,000 attendees. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

“ESPN’s senior vice president of production, David Roberts, said the decision was mutual. ‘We mutually agreed that this approach regarding our NBA coverage was best for all concerned,’ Roberts said in a statement emailed to SBJ. ‘Rachel is an excellent reporter, host, and journalist, and we thank her for her many contributions to our NBA content,’” Ourand reported on Wednesday.
Nichols still has a year on her contract, but according to Ourand, she will no longer appear on ESPN in any capacity after the next few episodes of The Jump air. Further, The Jump will be canceled once the last few shows in the can have aired.

This “mutual” parting of ways comes a month and a half after leaked audio revealed her displeasure at being replaced by black reporter Maria Taylor on ESPN’s NBA playoffs coverage, NBA Countdown. The audio, which had been recorded back in 2020, riled many black employees of the network, causing some to question management’s commitment to diversity at the network.

(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

In a desperate attempt to put the leaked audio behind her, Nichols made an on-air apology early in July. But it appears that the writing was on the wall.

Nichols joined ESPN in 2004 and soon became a regular host of SportsCenter, Sunday NFL Countdown, and Monday Night Countdown. After leaving for a short time between 2013 and 2016, she returned to ESPN to host The Jump and anchor several other NBA shows.

Taylor, the object of Nichols’ displeasure, also left ESPN and headed to NBC.

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