ESPN’s Rachel Nichols opened Monday’s “The Jump” with an apology to her ESPN colleagues and Maria Taylor — one day after leaked audio revealed Nichols citing the network’s “pressure” on diversity as to why Taylor was getting a hosting job over her.
“The first thing they teach you at journalism school is don’t be the story. I don’t plan to break that rule today or distract from a fantastic Finals,” she said to open the show. “But I also don’t want to let this moment pass how much I respect and how much I value our colleagues here at ESPN and 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 appeared to be tearing up as well at one point during the apology.
On Sunday, the New York Times published a story on how Nichols was caught unknowingly on camera speaking to Adam Mendelsohn, an adviser for LeBron James, about how ESPN was going to promote Taylor as the “NBA Countdown” host while continuing to use Nichols as a sideline reporter.
The comments made by Nichols came last July and were uploaded into the server at ESPN’s headquarters, which was then taped on a cellphone by an employee and made its way around the company.
Despite working on the same show, Nichols and Taylor have not interacted over the last year, although Nichols said she has made attempts to reach out to apologize.
Nichols’ segments were instead taped and were broadcast to appear live, which led network executives to threaten all sideline reporter interviews be taped unless Taylor and Nichols reconcile prior to the start of the NBA playoffs this year.
This led to backlash from others on the show, as many were upset Nichols was never disciplined for her comments. A phone call with those on the show and ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro was needed to smooth things over and the restrictions were rescinded.