Rachel Nichols of ESPN has been removed by the outlet from reporting the sidelines of the NBA Finals following a revealed recording of her throwing disparaging remarks about Maria Taylor, her colleague.
Nichols, who is white, allegedly denounced ESPN for last year’s selection of Taylor, who is black, to cover NBA Finals sidelines for her.
“If you need to give her more things to do because you’re feeling pressure about your crappy longtime record on diversity — which, by the way, I myself know personally — like, go for it, just find it somewhere else,” part of the leaked recording said, as reported by The New York Times.
Nichols aired her apologies on Monday at ESPN’s “The Jump” where she serves as co-host. “I also don’t want to let this moment pass without saying how deeply, deeply sorry I am for disappointing those I hurt, particularly Maria Taylor,” Nichols said.
Malika Andrews will be covering sideline reports to take Nichols’ place. During the NBA Finals, ESPN said they will allow Nichols to host “The Jump”.
The “NBA Countdown” for the finals will be hosted by Taylor, who has been working for ESPN for seven years. The Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns series is set to start on Tuesday at 9 p.m. (ET).
ESPN, in a statement, told CBS News that it has decided to center on basketball.
The controversy has immediately solicited reactions targeted to both the reporter and the network, CBS News reported.
“You don’t see a lot of black women in the role that Maria is in, she hears that 100 times a day. And so to hear that from a colleague, another woman, I can imagine that that would be very harmful and hurtful for her,” former ESPN host Jemele Hill said during the “CBS This Morning.”
“Maybe instead of crying and calling Maria a diversity token, you could direct that energy to the people who think there can only be one woman on that stage,” ESPN host’s daughter Mariah Rose said.