Less than an hour before kickoff of Super Bowl LIII Sunday night, news broke that up-and-coming ESPN studio host Adnan Virk had been fired under unusual circumstances.
A source confirmed a New York Post report that Virk, a versatile studio host who has spent the last eight years with ESPN, was terminated as part of an investigation into the sharing confidential company information.
In addition to being accused of leaking information to the media, ESPN reportedly didn’t consider Virk fully cooperative during its investigation of the allegations. His last day with the network was Friday, where he was escorted out of the company’s Bristol, Conn., headquarters.
“Adnan Virk no longer works at ESPN,” spokesperson Josh Krulewitz said.
When reached by the Inquirer, Virk declined to comment on the situation. Virk’s agent did not respond to a request for comment.
Virk, who was born and raised in Canada, joined ESPN in 2010 as an anchor for ESPNEWS. Over the years, he’s proven to be a versatile studio host, working on shows like Baseball Tonight, College Football Final, and the network’s college basketball coverage. He was also a frequent fill-in host on SportsCenter, Outside the Lines, and various ESPN Radio shows, and hosted a movie podcast called Cinephile.
Virk signed a contract extension with ESPN in May 2018, and spoke about the stress leading up to signing the new deal with The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch last year on his popular sports media podcast.
“Everyone is replaceable. It does become a mind game because we are all aware of the talented people who have left the company," Virk said. "If this company can say goodbye to Jayson Stark, Danny Kanell, Andy Katz, certainly Adnan Virk is expendable.”
The Post’s story was quickly overshadowed by the Super Bowl, but Virk did have at least one high-profile defender — James A. Miller, co-author of the ESPN book Those Guys Have All the Fun.
“If on air talent is going to be fired for speaking w/journalists, better start building a whole army of good looking robots,” Miller wrote in one tweet Sunday night after news of Virk’s firing broke. In another, he suggested Virk hadn’t been given either a warning or a suspension prior to being terminated.