ESPN broadcaster apologizes to Evan Russell over false UT baseball report

Tennessee officials said Russell did not violate any rules.
Evan Russell
Evan Russell(Tennessee Athletic Communications)
Published: Jun. 4, 2022 at 9:14 AM CDT|Updated: Jun. 4, 2022 at 1:20 PM CDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - University of Tennessee baseball player Evan Russell faced rumors Friday when ESPN broadcaster Troy Eklund said on-air that the player had failed a performance-enhancing drug test. A rumor that later proved untrue.

The graduate senior catcher was scratched from the Tennessee baseball lineup Friday and replaced with red-shirt freshman Charlie Taylor, WVLT learned from Tennessee Athletics officials. Later, Russell’s father took to Twitter to clarify that Russell was facing a personal health issue.

Russell’s father mentioned that his son had not failed any sort of test, addressing the rumors that he had failed a drug test prior to the game. Coach Tony Vitello mentioned the replacement, saying Russell had come down with some sort of illness, but wasn’t in COVID-19 protocol.

“I’ll have to get back to the doctor,” Vitello said. “Obviously, Evan was not here. He was sick this morning. I got a message from him.”

University of Tennessee officials addressed the situation, again clarifying that Russell had no issues with rule violations. They also addressed comments from ESPN on the subject, saying they expect an apology.

“Evan Russell’s absence last night had nothing to do with any violation of team, NCAA, or SEC rules,” officials said. “We have been in contact with ESPN and they are aware of the situation regarding last nights comments made on their broadcast. ESPN is handling the situation and we are expecting a public apology from them later today.”

Eklund gave that apology later in the day Saturday, saying:

“I’d like to take this opportunity to apologize to Tennessee’s Evan Russell and the Volunteer program for inaccurate, unsourced information that I used during the Stillwater regional. It was used in error and should not have been referenced. I regret any hurt or harm that it might have caused.”

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