Rachel Nichols and ESPN are officially done, and she is free to pursue a professional comeback, The Post has learned.
The settlement agreement came after Nichols had been exiled by ESPN following the fallout over her private comments about diversity at the network were made public in July 2021.
Nichols had one year remaining on her deal, but ESPN had no intention of using her after the network removed her from its NBA coverage prior to this season.
Now, Nichols is free to pursue other opportunities immediately, according to sources. She was making in the neighborhood of $1.5 million to $2 million per year, according to sources.
ESPN and Nichols declined comment.
In July, The New York Times published Nichols’ private comments, from July 2020, in which she talked about her jockeying to host the NBA Finals. In the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement, Nichols, who is white, alleged that ESPN executives had a poor record on diversity, but she did not want to give up her contractually agreed upon NBA Finals host role to Maria Taylor, who is black. ESPN executives were considering awarding Taylor the prestigious role and ultimately did.
“Just find it somewhere else,” Nichols said on the private recording, which an ESPN employee disseminated. “You are not going to find it from me or taking my thing away.”
ESPN had known for a year about the comments, which were recorded when Nichols was in the NBA’s bubble at Walt Disney World in the summer of 2020. ESPN felt there would be legal issues if the network were to discipline Nichols at the time since her comments had been taped without her knowledge. Over the subsequent year, Taylor reportedly declined apology attempts by Nichols.
Shortly after the story was published by the Times this past July, Taylor left for NBC Sports. At first, after Nichols’ comments became public, ESPN let Nichols continue on the air.
On her first show back with “The Jump,” Nichols said a reporter should never be the story, then proceeded to begin the program apologizing.
Next, the program took a one-day hiatus with the NBA Finals on tap. Before Game 1, ESPN decided to remove Nichols as the sideline reporter for The Finals.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver questioned the network’s handling of the Nichols-Taylor situation. Silver also said that he didn’t think anyone’s career should be erased by a single comment.
In the offseason, Nichols was initially back on the air, but then was taken off and her program, “The Jump,” was canceled. It has been replaced by “NBA Today,” hosted by Malika Andrews.
Nichols had been on the ESPN sidelines ever since. Now, she is completely out at the network.
The next likely move will be a professional comeback.