Is Maria Taylor leaving ESPN?

ESPN host Maria Taylor made highlights in early July after being involved in a "racial" scandal with co-worker Rachel Nichols.

The controversy between Taylor and Nichols was made public in a New York Times article, which resulted in Nichols' public apology to Taylor during her ESPN show The Jump.

Is Maria Taylor leaving ESPN?

Now reports claim Taylor is halfway out the door at ESPN and close to reaching a deal with rival NBC.

Front Office Sports reported, citing sources, that Taylor is nearing a possible deal with NBC Sports in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Taylor is currently hosting the NBA Finals for ESPN, but her contract expires on July 20.

Game 6 of the NBA Finals is scheduled for Tuesday, July 20, while a potential Game 7 is scheduled for next Thursday, July 22.

If Taylor were to leave, ESPN would have the unorthodox scenario of potentially having a different host to end a marquee event than the one who started it.

ESPN could try to see if Taylor would stay through the Finals, even if she decided to go with NBC; however, Taylor would make the final call.

The rising star could become the new host of Football Night in America as Mike Tirico transitions into the play-by-play post long held by Al Michaels.

With Taylor's experience on ESPN’s College GameDay, she could work on NBC’s broadcasts of Notre Dame football.

As an added lure, NBC could provide Taylor a global TV stage as an Olympic correspondent.

“The deal’s at the half-yard line. But that can still be a long way in contract negotiations,” a source told Front Office Sports.

Talks could still fall apart, or ESPN could raise its offer.

Taylor could not be reached. ESPN and NBC declined to comment when approached by The Sun.

What was the controversy between Rachel Nichols and Maria Taylor?

The drama over Taylor’s contract comes on the heels of The Times’ July 4 story that contained a year-old video of fellow ESPN NBA host/reporter Nichols.

In the video, Nichols says in a private conversation that she would lose her job as host of the NBA Finals because ESPN wanted to rectify its poor record on diversity.

Nichols was removed from her role as a sideline reporter on the Finals after the story.

A "storm" brewed amongst ESPN's staff members after the sports company declined to discipline Nichols.

At the time of the reporting, Nichols said she was frustrated and was “unloading to a friend about ESPN’s process, not about Maria.”

She told the Times: “My own intentions in that conversation, and the opinion of those in charge at ESPN, are not the sum of what matters here – if Maria felt the conversation was upsetting, then it was, and I was the cause of that for her.”

Nichols said she reached out to Taylor to apologize through texts and phone calls.

“Maria has chosen not to respond to these offers, which is completely fair and a decision I respect,” Nichols added.

On July 5, Nichols apologized to Taylor during her opening segment of The Jump.

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