Former Georgia star Maria Taylor joins NBC, will cover Olympics, NFL after ESPN departure

Maria Taylor, shown here with her former ESPN colleague, David Pollack, has been hired by NBC to work the Olympics and cover the NFL. (Abbie Parr/Getty Images/TNS)

ATHENS — Former All-SEC Georgia athlete and ESPN analyst Maria Taylor was introduced as a new member of the NBC Sports and Olympic family on Friday.

Mike Tirico, who like Taylor was once an ESPN broadcaster, shared the news during an NBA broadcast with Taylor featured on the split-screen.

Taylor’s career had taken off at ESPN, as she hosted the NBA Finals earlier this week before switching networks.

Taylor is on-site for her first assignment with NBC at the Tokyo Olympics, but her role will also including hosting the “Football Night in America” program and future Super Bowls.

Taylor was a three-time All-SEC volleyball player at Georgia and also played basketball for the Lady Bulldogs (2005-2009). Last May, Taylor delivered the commencement address.

“Speak your truth. Live in your purpose. Walk in grace. And inspire with your legacy,” said Taylor, who earned her bachelor’s degree in broadcast news and added an MBA from UGA in 2013.

“We are so proud of Maria and all she has accomplished,” Georgia athletic director Josh Brooks said. “She exemplifies the resilience and excellence that is synonymous with Olympic competition so it is truly fitting that she has earned this amazing opportunity.

“We love seeing her there along with the 30+ Dawgs competing. We know her future is limitless and we can’t wait to watch the continuation of her journey.”

Taylor issued a statement on her hire on the NBS Sports Press Box website.

“Incredibly excited to have the opportunity to work with Pete, Molly, Sam, Fred, and the entire NBC Sports family,” Taylor said in an NBC Sports release.

“Literally, hosting the Olympics, Football Night in America, and the Super Bowl is what I dreamed of when I started in television – and this would not be possible without standing on the shoulders of all of those who came before me and made this path possible. And I plan to pay it forward.”

Taylor was involved in a recent flap with ESPN colleague Rachel Nichols. A New York Times report revealed leaked audio from a year ago, Nichols suggested Taylor was assigned a program role with “NBA Countdown” as a diversity effort.

Nichols apologized, saying she was “deeply, deeply sorry I am for disappointing those I hurt, particularly Maria Taylor.”

ESPN’s negotiations to keep Taylor proved fruitless, and the 34-year-old rising broadcast star issued a statement shared in the ESPN Press Room on Wednesday.

So thankful to Jimmy and all of my great teammates and friends at the SEC Network, College GameDay, Women’s and Men’s college basketball, and the NBA Countdown family — the people who believed in me, encouraged me, pushed me, and lifted me up. Words are inadequate to express my boundless appreciation, and I hope to make them proud.”

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