Tennessee Baseball Expects An Apology From ESPN About A Disputed Report On Their Star Catcher

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Knoxville- The Tennessee baseball team started their postseason on Friday night by defeating Alabama State 10-0 in the opening game of the NCAA Baseball regionals. It wasn’t the game that garnered attention throughout the night though, as catcher Evan Russell missed the game due to being ‘sick’, according to head coach Tony Vitello.

The baseball program issued a statement before the game, indicating that Russell would not be available and that Vitello would comment on the matter during the postgame press conference.

“Evan Russell is not available for tonight’s game vs. Alabama State. Coach Vitello will address his status in Tennessee’s postgame press conference.”

The uncertainty surrounding the status of Russell caused a tremendous amount of speculation on social media, which is understandable due to the timing of the announcement. Left with no answers for a number of hours until the Vols put away Alabama State, folks had the opportunity to discuss the matter on twitter, including the broadcast of Oklahoma State vs. Missouri State.

The ESPN broadcast crew of Lowell Galindo and Troy Eklund announced that Evan Russell had been suspended for PED’s, according to ‘reports and speculation’ they had seen. Here is video of the exchange.

So now we had a national broadcast claiming that Russell had tested positive, according to reports they had seen, while also saying the whole baseball team would be drug tested on Saturday.

Following the game, Tony Vitello met with the media and offered an explanation on why Russell missed the game, which ESPN discussed during the video above, only the ‘sick’ part though.

“We’ll give it some time to figure out what’s going on because I have to get with Dr. (Chris) Klenck, but obviously Evan Russell was not here,” Vitello said. “He was sick this morning. I got a message from him. I’m going to always defer to those folks so don’t think I’m a bad guy if a guy sprains an ankle and I’m not out on the field. I don’t know what to do I’d just get in (trainer Jeff) Woody’s way and same thing with doc.”

The baseball program issued a statement to me on Saturday morning, denying Russell’s absence was related to a failed test of any kind.

“Evan Russell’s absence last night had nothing to do with any violation of team, NCAA, or SEC rules. 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.”

We will wait to see if ESPN comments on the matter.



Written by Trey Wallace

Trey Wallace is the host of The Trey Wallace Podcast that focuses on a mixture of sports, culture, entertainment along with his perspective on everything from College Football to the College World Series.

Wallace has been covering college sports for 15 years, starting off while attending the University of South Alabama. He’s broken some of the biggest college stories including the Florida football “Credit Card Scandal” along with the firing of Jim McElwin and Kevin Sumlin. Wallace also broke one of the biggest stories in college football in 2020 around the NCAA investigation into recruiting violations against Tennessee football head coach Jeremy Pruitt.

Wallace also appears on radio across seven different states breaking down that latest news in college sports.


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