Less than an hour before February’s Super Bowl kickoff, ESPN fired Baseball Tonight anchor Adnan Virk and escorted him out of the network’s Bristol, Conn., offices for allegedly leaking confidential company information.
Now, Virk has landed a new job after agreeing not to pursue any legal action against ESPN over his termination.
Virk will host a new nightly baseball show called ChangeUp on DAZN, a digital sports platform run by former ESPN president John Skipper (who resigned in May 2018 over a cocaine-extortion plot). Much like the MLB Network’s flagship show MLB Tonight, ChangeUp will be a live, whip-around show that will cut in to league play. The show is scheduled to debut on Opening Day on March 28. The news was first reported by James A. Miller, co-author of the ESPN book Those Guys Have All the Fun.
“Bringing Adnan on board is a huge win for DAZN and sports fans alike,” said Logan Swaim, ChangeUp’s Executive Producer. “He loves baseball and effortlessly weaves intelligent commentary with pop culture. We’re lucky to have him and can’t wait to get started.”
Virk will also make appearances on the MLB Network, according to The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch.
“I’d like to thank the wonderful people who I worked with at ESPN for making my experiences over 9 years there so memorable,” Virk said in a statement. “While the Company and I may disagree about the specific circumstances surrounding my departure, we all collectively agree it’s time to move forward. I’m so grateful to my wonderful family and friends for their support and am eager for what lies ahead.”
“ESPN and Adnan Virk have agreed not to litigate our differences and are moving on,” ESPN said in a statement. “We wish Adnan the best of luck with his career.”
Virk had worked for ESPN since 2010, and signed a two-year contract extension in May. In addition to anchoring Baseball Tonight, Virk often served as a fill-in host on SportsCenter and Outside the Lines. His firing was highly criticized by sports media pundits — including Miller — who thought Virk should have been suspended rather than terminated.
After nearly 15 years, Uni Watch columnist Paul Lukas has written his last column for ESPN.
Lukas took the opportunity to look back at his 10 favorite ESPN stories, which include the origin of the Houston Astros’ rainbow uniform and an overview of all the random oddities the Dallas Cowboys have incorporated in their uniform designs over the years.
Over Lukas’ tenure at ESPN, coverage of the gear players wear has gone mainstream, often covered by the network outside of his Uni Watch column. In December, ESPN NBA writer Zach Lowe devoted 1,500 words to the Miami Heat’s pink “Vice” uniforms. SportsCenter regularly highlights uniforms in a segment called “Gear Up.”
“Part of the mainstreaming in the interest in uniforms is because ESPN took a chance on me and legitimized the coverage of this beat,” Lukas told the Washington Post. “If ESPN is doing it, it gives it a certain validity to it.”
For now, Lukas will continue covering everything uniform-adjacent on his Uni Watch website, where Philadelphia sports fans can read a deep dive on the 1944 Philadelphia Blue Jays/Phillies logo or a catalogue of all the teams that have worn the city’s blue and yellow flag colors.
• CBS Sports will air two additional Alliance of American Football games on CBS this season — one of the league’s conference championship games on Sunday, April 21, and a match-up between the Memphis Express and the San Antonio Commanders on Saturday, April 6.
CBS will also air the league’s championship game from Las Vegas on April 27.
• A source confirms several media reports that Gannett has sold The Big Lead to Minute Media, which owns the sports aggregation website 12up. As a result of the acquisition, several staffers at The Big Lead - including founder and Fox Sports personality Jason McIntyre — have lost their jobs.