A local North Carolina ESPN affiliate radio station has canceled their coverage of the East Carolina University football game this weekend after members of the ECU marching band took a knee during the national anthem before their game last Saturday.
— Tyler Graddy (@TylerGraddyKN) October 1, 2016
ESPNFayetteville.com has decided not to cover ECU’s matchup against South Florida as a result of the marching band’s protest. The station’s CEO Jeff Andrulonis took the ECU-USF game “in order to honor the military,” according to Deadspin.
Some ECU Pirates fans are likely in agreement with Andrulonis. Many fans in attendance booed when the marching band took the field during halftime of the game last Saturday.
The ECU Band was boo’ed loudly during halftime of today’s game. pic.twitter.com/iA2T21XDwd
— Pirate Radio (@pirateradio1250) October 1, 2016
Andrulonis issued a statement in accordance with his decision to forego coverage of Saturday’s divisional game. Here’s a portion of the statement via Mark Armstrong from ABC11 in North Carolina.
This is something else – ESPN Fayetteville radio won’t carry ECU-USF because of the band protest pic.twitter.com/2UwHgkfZBZ
— Mark Armstrong (@ArmstrongABC11) October 4, 2016
The statement begins by citing the ECU marching band’s decision to kneel as a “‘shameful’ disrespect of the National Anthem.” It then includes a quote from Andrulonis claiming that “roughly a dozen band members disgraced themselves on the football field this past weekend.”
After making it clear Andrulonis, himself, supports the military and the troops, he announces he’s “decided that ESPN Fayetteville will ‘protest the protest.'”
The radio station CEO claimed in the statement to have the support of all of his sponsors in his decision. Andrulonis added that he supports the band members right to protest, “but not the right to say or do whatever they want with no repercussions,” according to the statement.
There’s a chance that this weekend’s game that is scheduled in Florida might not be played. Hurricane Matthew, now over Haiti, could strike the East coast hard this weekend either canceling or postponing any of the games in its path.