Adnan Virk on Baseball Tonight.

Adnan Virk is one of the most versatile anchors at ESPN. Whether he’s on Baseball Tonight, the college football studio, picking the Oscars on Mike & Mike, or substituting for the now-defunct “Olbermann” show, Virk has shown that he can talk different subjects with the best all-around sports anchors.

Recently, Virk was the guest on the SI Media Podcast with Richard Deitsch. Among the subjects discussed were the recent ESPN departures, being the first Muslim anchor at ESPN and dealing with Curt Schilling’s comments.

In regards to Mike Tirico’s departure, Virk said he was stunned to hear about it because he felt the Monday Night Football was a lifer, “Listen, he’s an institution, he’s been here 25 years, he’s not going anywhere. So when you hear the news, you go ‘Oh, my God! What was the deal that they offered?’ Mike does everything he wants at ESPN, he’s phenomenal. I’m sure it’s not just money. I know him a little bit. He’s not motivated by his finances, everybody would like a nice paycheck, but Mike cares about the job being passionate about it.”

Virk mentioned that he texted Tirico to congratulate him about leaving and said he didn’t reveal much in his reply, but that he’ll miss having him around at ESPN.

Virk has been with ESPN since 2010 after working in Canada and is the network’s first Muslim anchor. He said it’s something he takes pride in, “It’s pretty cool when I go to the mosque or I meet kids who say ‘Hey man! I had no idea you were Muslim, it’s so cool to see you on ESPN, you’ve inspired me.’ I’ve met guys in Canada who’ve said the same thing to me, so obviously it’s something I take pride in.”

Virk said being the first Muslim anchor on the Worldwide Leader is something he hasn’t had to think of until recently due to the rise of Muslim extremism around the world and how it’s become an issue during this year’s Presidential campaign. And he said it’s become a big topic with him.

He said he debated on if he should use his Twitter feed to denounce the extremists and when he did, he had full support from his ESPN colleagues. But he found a lot of negative reaction who denounced him and his religion.

One ESPN colleague who also spoke out about Islam was Curt Schilling. Virk worked with Schilling on Baseball Tonight and he said he considered the former Red Sox pitcher a friend. They worked together for three years and Virk said they got along great. He learned from his analysis and was a colleague who was always busting chops and disarming to his friends.

Virk said when Schilling posted an anti-Muslim meme on his Twitter account, he said it was one of the most uncomfortable days he’s ever had at ESPN. Virk said he was on his way to the Little League World Series when he received texts and calls from his friends saying that Schilling was going to be fired over his post. He called his ESPN bosses who told him they would deal with Schilling and he was eventually going to be moving to college football and off baseball anyway.

Virk said he felt he had to say something about it, but he did it in a subtle way at the Little League World Series by stating “Regardless of religion or race, it’s wonderful to feel that everyone is so inclusive here.” He said Schilling who was sitting next to him totally missed what he said and mentioned that Karl Ravech jokingly texted him that he was politicizing the open of Baseball Tonight.

Virk then said Schilling texted him saying, “I know you know me well enough to know I’m not racist, but if I upset you or your family, I’m sorry.”

Virk replied that he’d rather talk over the phone and they discussed it and he felt Schilling was genuinely apologetic and sorry for what he did. And then a month later, Virk said Schilling sent a video message to him apologizing once again for the meme.

Going forward, Virk said he would work with Schilling again and feels that the company was put into a difficult position over the transgender Facebook post and after being told not to post about politics again, was forced to do something.

One of the funnier stories from Virk was that he almost deported from ESPN. He said three years ago while working out, he got a call from Mark Gross, a vice president at ESPN and was told he was to meet him right away. Gross told him that his visa expired and he had to go back to his native Canada.

Gross said he would work Baseball Tonight that evening, but then he and his family would have to return to Canada the next day. Virk pointed out that his wife and children are Americans, so Gross corrected himself to say that Virk would have to leave.

Virk said he had a green card at home meaning he was a permanent resident of the United States and wouldn’t have to leave. Once he got that squared away, he heard a voice mail from one of the legal representatives telling Gross that Virk would have to be “shipped back” to Canada. And there was an actual conference call debating whether Virk could anchor Baseball Tonight from the Great White North. The idea was quickly shot down.

Luckily for Virk, he was not deported and remained in the United States.

The entire podcast can be heard at or at Soundcloud.

[SI Media Podcast]

About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013.

He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television.

Fang celebrates the four Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.

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