Rachel Nichols is sorry for implying Maria Taylor was offered a hosting gig at ESPN simply because she's Black. The controversy erupted after Nichols' comments from last year were reported in the New York Times this weekend; at the start of Monday's episode of The Jump, which Nichols co-hosts, she promptly addressed the uproar. She said, per USA Today, that while she didn't want to distract from coverage of the NBA finals, she also didn't "want to let this moment pass without saying how much I respect, how much I value our colleagues here at ESPN, how deeply, deeply sorry I am for disappointing those I hurt—particularly Maria Taylor—and how grateful I am to be part of this outstanding team."
Nichols said she also called and texted Taylor multiple times before making the public apology. As Sportscasting explains, much of the story had already been making the rounds before the Times got a hold of the full audio recording of what Nichols said, and Taylor has reportedly not wanted to work alongside Nichols for a while. ESPN employees have also reportedly been choosing sides. Former ESPN journalist Jason Whitlock thinks the Times story is a "plant" and the whole scandal is a "contract leverage play by Taylor's reps" as her contract is set to expire this month. Before the Times story came out, there was a report that Taylor had turned down a $5 million per year offer in the hopes of getting closer to $8 million, but that since ESPN made that offer last year, it has now downgraded it to between $2 million and $3 million. (Read more ESPN stories.)