Rachel Nichols Removed from ESPN Programming; 'The Jump' to Be Canceled by Network

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVAugust 25, 2021

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 29: ESPN reporter, Rachel Nichols  talks during the 2021 NBA Draft on July 29, 2021 at the Barclays Center, New York.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE  (Photo by Michael J. LeBrecht II/NBAE via Getty Images)
Michael J. LeBrecht II/NBAE via Getty Images

ESPN has removed Rachel Nichols from NBA programming and canceled The Jump, an afternoon NBA show hosted by Nichols since 2016, according to John Ourand of Sports Business Journal.

"We mutually agreed that this approach regarding our NBA coverage was best for all concerned," ESPN Senior VP/Production David Roberts said in a statement. "Rachel is an excellent reporter, host and journalist, and we thank her for her many contributions to our NBA content."

Nichols has more than a year remaining on her contract with ESPN, but she reportedly is not expected to appear on television during that time.

Nichols released a statement on Twitter:

Rachel Nichols @Rachel__Nichols

Got to create a whole show and spend five years hanging out with some of my favorite people ❤️ talking about one my favorite things 🏀 An eternal thank you to our amazing producers &amp; crew - The Jump was never built to last forever but it sure was fun. 😎<br>More to come… <a href="https://t.co/FPMFRlfJin">pic.twitter.com/FPMFRlfJin</a>

The decision comes nearly two months after Kevin Draper of the New York Times reported on a recording of a private phone call in 2020 on which Nichols was heard suggesting former ESPN colleague Maria Taylor had been selected as the host of NBA Countdown for the NBA Finals because she is Black.

"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," Nichols said in the recording. "Just find it somewhere else. You are not going to find it from me or taking my thing away."

Taylor left ESPN in July and signed a deal with NBC Sports.

ESPN will now move forward without either studio host, with Ourand reporting that "many more changes are coming."

The broadcast network already announced this week that Max Kellerman will no longer appear on First Take