ESPN’s Troy Eklund apologized Saturday for stating during a Friday NCAA Tournament game that Tennessee catcher Evan Russell had failed a drug test.

Eklund is part of the broadcast crew for the Stillwater Regional. A Saturday segment recapping “Day 1 Headlines” mentioned Tennessee’s 10-0 win over Alabama State. Eklund used the Tennessee mention to apologize to Russell for improperly citing social media rumors with “inaccurate, unsourced information” as others’ reporting. Eklund added that he regrets any “hurt or harm” his comments caused.

“Speaking of Tennessee – I’d like to take this opportunity to apologize to Tennessee’s Evan Russell and the Volunteer program for inaccurate, unsourced information I used Friday night during the Stillwater Regional,” Eklund said during the Missouri State-Grand Canyon game. “It was used in error and should not have been referenced. I regret any hurt or harm that it might have caused.”

Russell’s father was quick to accept the apology.

Eklund said the following on-air Friday while calling the Missouri State-Oklahoma State after the play-by-play announcer mentioned Tennessee:

“It was pretty crazy, failed a drug test so Evan Russell is suspended for the rest of the season, so Tennessee is going to have the whole rest of the team tested tomorrow, or the NCAA is. So it’s going to be interesting to see if that’s just a one-player thing or throughout that whole entire program. Performance enhancing drugs is what it was said.”

Russell missed Tennessee’s Friday game. After the game, UT coach Tony Vitello told reporters that Russell was sick. There were no credible reports of Russell having failed a drug test, only unfounded rumors on social media. Russell has been cleared to return. The starting catcher has been dealing with ” anxiety, stress and pressure” according to his father. Tennessee, the NCAA Tournament’s No. 1 national seed, faces Campbell in Saturday’s winner’s bracket game of the Knoxville Regional.

Read More

Sports betting in Tennessee officially launched on November 1, 2020, and many of the largest sportsbooks are live and operating in the volunteer state. Tennessee is only one of a handful of SEC football states with legalized sports betting.