ESPN has decided to pull broadcaster Robert Lee from the University of Virginia’s opening football game against William & Mary because of his name, which is similar to Confederate general Robert E. Lee.
The public relations department at ESPN released the following statement after making the controversial announcement,
“We collectively made the decision with Robert to switch games as the tragic events in Charlottesville were unfolding, simply because of the coincidence of his name. In that moment it felt right to all parties. It’s a shame that this is even a topic of conversation and we regret that who calls play by play for a football game has become an issue.”
On August 12, 2017, white supremacists gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee. Heather Heyer was murdered by a white supremacist who drove his car over a group of counter-protesters.
Robert Lee, an Asian-American sports broadcaster, has been moved to cover the Youngstown State game at Pittsburgh on September 2nd, 2017.
ESPN blames the Charlottesville tragedy for the sudden switch and hopes to prevent any further controversy. Sports Illustrated reports that Lee was not forced to switch games, but felt more comfortable moving to another game.
The Cavaliers will face off against William & Mary on September 2nd at Scott Stadium.