Doing It My Way

Sports Are on Pause, But ESPN’s Maria Taylor Is Still Putting in Work

The analyst and host shares her career story and her thoughts on the future of athletics — Zoom locker room interviews could be a thing

Kwani Lunis
Published in
7 min readMay 8, 2020
A photo of Maria Taylor at the news desk.
Maria Taylor. Photo: Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images

As Maria Taylor explains it, her success in sports broadcasting was born at the intersection of doubt and empowerment.

“When I was graduating, my professor [at the University of Georgia] said, ‘You’ll never find a job in sports and you’ll never make any money in sports, so good luck with that,’” she recalls.

That professor was clearly wrong.

Eleven years later, Taylor is an ESPN host, analyst, and reporter. She not only bypassed the naysayers in becoming a bona fide sports media star, she also advocated for herself.

In 2017, after just three years at ESPN, Taylor walked into the office of the executive vice president of programming and production, clear-eyed with desire to helm one of the network’s most prized shows. “I went in there and told him I want to be able to host College GameDay one day. I asked, ‘What do I have to do to make you guys believe that’s possible?’” Taylor says. “We sat there and came up with a plan.”

The plan worked. That same year, Taylor started hosting the program.

A retired student athlete, Taylor’s passions exceed sportscasting. The 32-year-old is also committed to helping people from marginalized communities break into the industry. Her nonprofit, the Winning Edge Leadership Academy, helps her do just that.

In between hosting NBA Countdown at home and interviewing athletes on Instagram Live during Covid-19, Taylor found time to jump on the phone with ZORA to chat about her career in sports and uplifting Black women.

ZORA: How did you break into sports broadcasting?

Maria Taylor: When I was at UGA, my athletic director was a Black man, Damon Evans. My senior women’s administrator was Carla Williams. She’s actually the first African American woman to be an athletic director at a Power Five school. We also had a guy named Arthur Johnson, so we had three Black figures in an SEC school…



Kwani Lunis
Writer for

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