Where is Rachel Nichols now: She’s struggling to find a job

Rachel Nichols’ abrasive approach to reporting facilitated her return to ESPN in 2016 and earned her plenty of admirers. Nichols desired to make it to the top of sports reporting – a traditionally male-dominated field – and she would pull all the stops to get there. Therefore, Nichols didn’t take it kindly when ESPN picked Maria Taylor as the network’s host of the 2020 NBA Finals. 

Nichols lamented that ESPN tried to cover up its sketchy diversity record by appointing Taylor, a black woman, as its host. In her opinion, ESPN had no right to interrupt her career in search of racial diversity. 

After The New York Times leaked Rachel’s comments, ESPN moved swiftly to cut ties with Rachel, terminating her contract in early January 2022. 

Rachel’s yet to find a permanent gig but still seems interested in journalism

It’s perhaps surprising that a presenter of Rachel’s repute has gone so long without finding a permanent job. At the time of writing, it’s been almost four months since ESPN freed Rachel from her contract, allowing her to search for employment elsewhere. 

However, Rachel’s yet to find a permanent job, despite pleas from her fans that she gets back on screen. Under her social media posts are thousands of fan comments urging her to join a media outlet. 

Perhaps it’s a sign of the times that a racial scandal can damage the career of a renowned journalist like Rachel to the point where she can’t find a permanent job. Media outlets would likely have bombarded Rachel with offers had she left ESPN under less acrimonious circumstances. 

On the other hand, Rachel might be ignoring approaches from media houses. Shortly after her relationship with ESPN started crumbling, reports suggested that she was on the radar of several outlets, including her former employer TNT. 

Whichever’s the case, the fact remains that Rachel hasn’t landed a permanent journalism position. Her Instagram page shows that she’s still interested in sports. Per a March 2022 post, she participated in a Showtime feature about Denver Nuggets player DeMarcus Cousins. 

Nichols also remains interested in sports journalism. She discovered her passion for journalism as a teenager and started honing it by participating in school sports journalism. Rachel told Midwest Sports Fans:

“From the beginning, sports seemed like the best gig to me. As a kid, the idea that people got paid to follow sports for a living seemed like getting paid to go to recess. Actually, as an adult, I still think that sometimes.”

Nichols had one year left on her ESPN contract when she settled with the outlet

As Nichols covered the NBA Playoffs in Florida, she called LeBron James’ advisor Adam Mendelsohn to complain about Maria Taylor’s appointment as NBA Finals host. Unbeknownst to Nichols, an ESPN camera recorded the conversation.

The recording was then transmitted to ESPN’s Connecticut offices, where an employee recorded it on a cellphone and distributed it to colleagues. Nichols told Adam:

“I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world. If you need to give her more things to do because you are feeling pressure about your crappy longtime record on diversity, go for it. Just find it somewhere else. You are not going to find it from me or taking my thing away.”

Nichols told Adam that hosting the NBA Finals was in her contract. “I just want them to go somewhere else,” she said. 

ESPN knew about Rachel’s comments, but they declined to discipline her due to the sketchy legality of the recording. In Connecticut and Florida, the parties being recorded have to agree to the recording. Neither Adam nor Nichols knew their conversation was being taped. 

The New York Times leaked the conversation a year later, drawing a public apology from Nichols. Maria Taylor, who left ESPN for NBC News, reportedly refused to accept Rachel’s apology. 

ESPN canceled Rachel’s show, The Jump, and removed her from the network’s programming. However, Nichols had a year left on her contract and, critically, an advantage if the case went to court – the recording violated two-party consent laws.

“Even if it was a one-party state, it seemed like neither Nichols nor Mendelsohn knew they were being recorded,” Matt Netti, an attorney, told The New York Post. “More than likely this video was captured illegally and distributed.”

Matt opined that ESPN’s best option was to pay Nichols ‘a lot of money’ to settle the dispute. As expected, ESPN and Rachel settled. The details of their agreement remain unclear, but we know that it released Rachel from her contract. 

“The Jump was never built to last forever but it sure was fun. More to come….” Rachel tweeted. We are still waiting. 

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