Report: Rachel Nichols, ESPN Reach Settlement After Her Removal from NBA Coverage

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 4, 2022

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 and media personality Rachel Nichols have reportedly agreed on a settlement that will allow her to leave the company, according to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post.

Nichols last appeared on the air in August, a month after the New York Times released audio from July 2020 of Nichols telling LeBron James' adviser, Adam Mendelsohn, that she didn't want to lose her NBA Finals hosting duties to her Black colleague, Maria Taylor:

"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. ... I just want them to go somewhere else—it's in my contract, by the way; this job is in my contract in writing."
"Those same people—who are, like, generally white conservative male Trump voters—is part of the reason I've had a hard time at ESPN. I basically finally just outworked everyone for so long that they had to recognize it. I don't want to then be a victim of them trying to play catch-up for the same damage that affected me in the first place, you know what I mean. So I'm trying to just be nice."

Executives at ESPN reportedly knew of the conversation for a year but were concerned about disciplining her since the conversation had been taped without her consent, per Marchand.

Once the New York Times released the audio, however, Nichols was phased out of ESPN programming despite making a public apology on her former NBA show, The Jump. Before her reported settlement with the company, she reportedly had a year left on her contract set to pay her "in the neighborhood of $1.5 million to $2 million per year," per Marchand.

Taylor, meanwhile, left ESPN in the summer for NBC Sports. Marchand reported that Taylor "reportedly declined apology attempts by Nichols" from when the original comments were made in 2020 to their public release a year later.

After The Jump was taken off the air in October, it was replaced by NBA Today, hosted by Malika Andrews. She and Richard Jefferson had both served as temporary hosts of The Jump after Nichols was removed from the program.