ESPN is putting Rachel Nichols on the bench: The sports network has removed Nichols from its NBA coverage in the wake of controversial comments from her that leaked last month. ESPN has also cancelled The Jump, the daily basketball news show hosted by Nichols that debuted in 2016.
Nichols confirmed the news with a tweet on Wednesday: “Got to create a whole show and spend five years hanging out with some of my favorite people, talking about one [of] my favorite things. An eternal thank you to our amazing producers & crew — The Jump was never meant to last forever, but it sure was fun. More to come…”
“We mutually agreed that this approach regarding our NBA coverage was best for all concerned,” ESPN senior vice president for NBA production David Roberts said in a statement, per our sister site Variety. “Rachel is an excellent reporter, host and journalist, and we thank her for her many contributions to our NBA content.”
Nichols has been a mainstay on ESPN’s NBA coverage since joining the network in 2004, hosting studio shows including The Jump and serving as a sideline reporter during games. But she stirred controversy when comments she made last year about former ESPN colleague Maria Taylor leaked in July. In a private conversation, Nichols expressed frustration that Taylor, who is Black, would be hosting coverage of the NBA Finals, implying that Taylor got the job over her because ESPN was “feeling pressure about” their “crappy longtime record on diversity.”
After the comments became public, Nichols apologized, and ESPN removed her as sideline reporter at this year’s NBA Finals. Taylor, meanwhile, left the network weeks later and signed a new deal with NBC Sports.