Controversy over Confederate statues somehow has found its way its way into college football.
ESPN announced Tuesday that it was switching broadcasters for games on Sept. 2 so that an announcer named Robert Lee would not be assigned to Charlottesville for the William and Mary-at-University of Virginia football game.
In a statement to Accuracy in Media Tuesday night, ESPN spokesman Derek Volner said, “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.”
According to the Schenectady Daily Gazette newspaper in New York, Lee instead will call the play-by-play at the Youngstown State-University of Pittsburgh game at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. That game will air on ESPN3. Dave Weekley, who had been scheduled to call the Youngstown-Pittsburgh game, now will call the game in Charlottesville, according to the Gazette.
The William and Mary-Virginia game will take place just three weeks after 32-year-old Heather Heyer was killed as a result of violence stemming from clashes between protesters battling over Charlottesville’s plan to remove a statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee.
The weekend clashes resulted in a national debate over whether other cities should keep or remove confederate statues. Further, states and localities began questioning whether they also should rename highways named after confederate leaders.
President Donald Trump warned amid the controversy that making such changes could be a slippery slope. Trump famously asked at a Trump Tower news conference if counter-protesters would soon go after monuments, cities and roadways named after George Washington or Thomas Jefferson.