ESPN announcers draw outrage from Tennessee fans after sharing unsubstantiated claim about Evan Russell
Tennessee fans are upset with ESPN after an NCAA Regional announcer shared an unsubstantiated claim that Evan Russel failed a drug test.
As the No. 1 national seed in the NCAA Tournament, Tennessee is in the national spotlight. Ahead of Friday’s game against Alabama State, UT announced that Evan Russell was unavailable to play. After the game, Volunteers coach Tony Vitello told reporters that Russell was sick. Vitello said he did not know if Russell would return Saturday.
Russell’s absence came up during the Missouri State-Oklahoma State game. According to Rocky Top Insider’s Ryan Schumpert, Lowell Galindo and former Arkansas outfielder Troy Eklund were on the call.
“They lost their starting catcher,” Galindo said of the Vols, referencing Russell, per Rocky Top Insider.
“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,” Eklund said.
There have not been any credible reports of Russell failing a test. The announcers then noted Vitello’s press conference statements before again referencing “reports” on Russell.
So, ESPN announcers decided to say Tennessee’s Evan Russell was suspended for PED’s according to “reports and speculation” and that the NCAA would now be testing the whole team.
Where is this report that stated this about Russell? pic.twitter.com/HnsG0GfciZ
— Trey Wallace (@TreyWallace_) June 4, 2022
Tennessee released a statement saying it has been in contact with ESPN and expects a public apology Saturday.
“We have been in contact with ESPN and they are aware of the situation regarding last night’s comments made on their broadcast. ESPN is handling the situation and we are expecting a public apology from them later today.”
Tennessee’s statement regarding comments made on an ESPN broadcast last night: “Evan Russell’s absence last night had nothing to do with any violation… we are expecting a public apology from (ESPN) later today.” pic.twitter.com/I3agDvt0Qj
— Ben McKee (@benmckee14) June 4, 2022
In an early Saturday morning update, Russell’s dad also stated that his son did not fail any kind of test.
More on Tennessee’s Evan Russell. Hopefully he’s fine and ready to go. https://t.co/ie0VgqSwov
— Kendall Rogers (@KendallRogers) June 4, 2022