ESPN has removed an announcer from its broadcast of an upcoming football game at the University of Virginia next month because he shares a name with a controversial Confederate general.
Robert Lee, a part-time announcer who calls around a dozen football and basketball games a year, was removed from the game in light of the violence in Charlottesville, VA, over the removal of a monument to Robert E. Lee. One woman lost her life after a car plowed into a group of counter-protesters and several others were injured.
A network spokesman said both network executives and Robert Lee collectively decided removing Lee from the game was the best course of action in order to maintain his safety.
“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,” ESPN said in a statement. “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.”
Lee was initially set to be in the announcer’s booth for the Virginia Cavaliers’ first game of the season, but will now announce Youngstown State’s game against the University of Pittsburgh.
ESPN has generated controversy over the move, with many deriding the network as “politically correct.”