ESPN, in terms of keeping its corporate secrets safe recently, has been about as airtight as cheesecloth.
Multiple leaks to the media have fueled a slew of stories about trouble within the network, and the whole thing’s given the “Worldwide Leader in Sports” and its corporate parent the Walt Disney Co. a massive black eye.
Turns out, ESPN didn’t just roll over and let this happen without an internal investigation, and now Adnan Virk, who until Friday was seen as a rising star at the network, has been fired.
The New York Post reported that Virk “failed to fully cooperate” with the investigation, and that was enough to void the new contract extension he just signed with the network.
“Virk is accused of leaking confidential company information to the media on multiple occasions, according to sources,” the Post reported.
— New York Post (@nypost) February 3, 2019
ESPN vice president John Krulevitz said flatly, “Adnan Virk no longer works at ESPN,” according to the Post.
Virk had become a jack of all trades at ESPN, leading the network’s college football studio coverage, filling in for Karl Ravech on “Baseball Tonight,” hosting college basketball studio shows, doing pinch-hitting duty for ESPN Radio, and even launching a “Cinephile” podcast to compete with the likes of The Ringer on the pop-culture front.
The 40-year-old Virk, born in Pakistan, came to the United States from Canada and looked like the perfect combination of diversity and competence for ESPN’s “social justice”-oriented corporate philosophy.
Unfortunately, when he received the standard ESPN/Disney-mandated information security training, the lessons apparently didn’t take, and he committed one of the biggest fireable offenses not just in journalism but in any walk of life.
Even a lowly cashier at a retail store making minimum wage gets a line in the employee handbook about not sharing company secrets or proprietary information.
Virk was still known as “@adnanESPN” on Twitter and his bio still included an association with the Worldwide Leader as of Monday morning.
Along the same social-media silence lines, Virk has issued no public statements and has been silent since being escorted from the Bristol, Connecticut campus on Friday.
Indeed, Virk’s last tweet is dated Jan. 31 and appears to be associated with the Cinephile podcast.
You’re the best Sarah! ???? https://t.co/ZTW43vim2S
— Adnan Virk, ESPN (@adnanESPN) January 31, 2019
Virk’s early career was as a fixture on the Toronto sports scene, where he worked for The Score and TSN covering Toronto-area sports teams including the Maple Leafs and Raptors.
Virk becomes a free agent with this news, although whether his on-air charm and stage presence are enough to overcome the scarlet “L” for “leaker” with a potential new employer is a massive open question, an elephant in any room Virk interviews in for the rest of his career.
ESPN has not yet said anything about who it will be tapping to replace Virk in the variety of roles he played.
It may be that they need to split the roles, as Virk was one of the most versatile personalities ESPN had, the ultimate utility man.
The moral of the story, it seems, is nobody is untouchable, not even the rising stars.
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