Danny White Responds to Broadcast Situation In Support of Evan Russell

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Tennessee Athletic Director Danny White made a statement on Saturday to show his support for Tennessee student-athlete Evan Russell and to challenge the media to higher standards following the false accusations on Friday.

“Thrilled to update that Evan Russell is feeling better and back with the team,” Athletic Director White said in a tweet on Saturday. “Sad that over the last 24 hours this young man has had to endure speculation and criticism. In the future I hope that the media will prioritize the health of our student-athletes over unfounded rumors.”

Russell, Tennessee’s starting catcher, was unavailable for Friday’s first game in the Knoxville Regional. Following the game, Tennessee head coach Tony Vitello told reporters in Knoxville that Russell was not present for the game due to sickness.

Despite no legitimate confirmation, ESPN announcers from the Stillwater Regional publically reported false accusations during a broadcast on Friday night that Russell had been suspended due to performance-enhancing drugs. The announcers later clarified the truth using Vitello’s postgame comments but did not issue any sort of apology or acknowledgment of wrongdoing for the accusatory claims.

See Also From RTI: ESPN Announcers Makes Unsubstantiated PED Claim About Tennessee Catcher

“It was pretty crazy, failed a drug test, so Evan Russell is suspended for the rest of the season,” said Troy Eklund, the commentator on the broadcast for the Oklahoma State versus Missouri State game. “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.”

There is no legitimate link between Evan Russell, or anyone on the Tennessee baseball team, and performance-enhancing drugs. In reality, the ESPN broadcasters were sadly fooled by a fake social media post that was circulating on Twitter during a period of rampant speculation, resulting in a false accusation regarding a student-athlete.

Knoxville Regional: Tennessee Rolls Past Alabama State To Open Knoxville Regional

On Saturday morning, Russell’s father – Jason – openly shared some insight into the situation from Friday while also providing good news.

“Evan has been cleared to play today!!!” Jason Russell wrote in a tweet on Saturday morning. “God is good… to answer all concerns and doubt. Evan is good and just to clarify what’s he been dealing with is anxiety, stress and pressure. Basically just the worries and conviction of the Lord… Evan’s Great!! Thanks to everyone!!”

After defeating Alabama State by a score of 10-0 on Friday night, Tennessee will be back in action Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. ET for a showdown with Campbell. The winner of that contest will officially be heading to the Knoxville Regional Championship game on Sunday.

Ric Butler is a Knoxville based sports media personality who has covered University of Tennessee athletics since 2017. Most recently, he served as the lead writer for the website of a local radio station. Ric also helped create and host a daily radio show called “The Blitz." Ric’s passion for sports, smooth vocal, and infectious personality have made him popular with both his peers and Vol Nation. Originally from Dallas, Ric didn’t grow up riding horses to school. But he did dream of the big city lights. When not chasing down the latest Tennessee story, Ric can be found watching the WWE, often attempting their moves in an embarrassing fashion.