ESPN has reassigned play-by-play broadcaster Robert Lee so that he will no longer cover a football game at the University of Virginia next month because his name is similar to that of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
ESPN’s Lee, who is Asian American, is not related to the Confederate general.
But the network responded after potential removal of a Robert E. Lee statue near the campus of University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia, sparked a series of violent protests by white supremacists and neo-Nazis earlier this month. Three people died and dozens were injured.
“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.”
The network did not immediately who would cover UVA’s home opener against William and Mary on September 2.
Fox Sports reporter Clay Travis, who broke the story, appeared on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight” to discuss the situation on Tuesday night. Travis and Carlson, who are both outspoken conservatives, mocked ESPN as “MSESPN” throughout the segment.
“My instinct is, this has got to be a hoax because it’s too crazy,” Carlson said.
“It’s 100 percent true,” Travis fired back. “It’s a sign of how ridiculous and absurd society has become.”
ESPN did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request to speak with Lee about the decision.
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