Rachel Nichols wears a tan jacket against a dark backdrop on the red carpet

Rachel Nichols was possibly one of the most recognizable and popular faces of ESPN, but that all changed after a recorded phone call revealed that she’d accused the network of replacing her as the host of the NBA finals with a black reporter to save face for its “crappy longtime record” on diversity. Now some legal experts are saying Nichols has a case against her former employer after her show, The Jump, was suddenly canceled in the wake of the scandal. Here’s why one expert believed the recorded phone call was possibly illegal. 

The Controversy That Cost Rachel Nichols Her ESPN Show

A year before the phone call was made public, Rachel Nichols was venting to Lebron James’ advisor Adam Mendelsohn about the fact that she had been replaced as host of the NBA finals by Maria Taylor. Nichols then claimed that Taylor was only given the position because she was black and ESPN wanted to atone for its “crappy longtime record” in regards to diversity. 

The conversation reportedly took place in Nichols’ Disney World hotel room while she was covering the 2020 NBA playoffs. The phone call was picked up by a network camera and transmitted to ESPN’s Connecticut offices, where an employee recorded it on their cell phone before showing it to colleagues according to reporting from the New York Times. Nichols later apologized to Taylor for the comment during her show. Now one legal expert claims that Nichols has the makings of a great case in court

Both Connecticut and Florida, where Nichols was at the time of her call, are two-party consent states, meaning that both participants have to agree to record a conversation in order for it to be legal. Matt Netti, an attorney and contributor to sports legal site Conduct Detrimental, spoke with the New York Post about the matter and said, “In my opinion, ESPN doesn’t have a leg to stand on,” adding, “I should hope for their own sake that they reached a settlement with her and paid her a lot of money.” 

He said recording the phone call was a violation of two-party consent laws before continuing, “Even if it was a one-party state, it seemed like neither Nichols nor Mendelsohn knew they were being recorded. More than likely this video was captured illegally and distributed.” He added that Nichols could have a case if she claimed her privacy was violated, telling the outlet, “She had a right to feel secure and that this conversation was private,” and said that ESPN could also be found guilty of a “standard breach of contract,” regarding her replacement as host of the NBA finals, a position she was contractually assigned. 

After news broke of the cancellation of The Jump, Nichols tweeted out a message to her fans and supporters. “Got to create a whole show and spend five years hanging out with some of my favorite people talking about one my favorite things. An eternal thank you to our amazing producers & crew – The Jump was never built to last forever but it sure was fun. More to come…” 

We have no idea what’s in store for Rachel Nichols, but it would appear that she has plans to continue her career in some capacity or another. We wouldn’t be surprised to see her pop up again sometime soon.

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