ESPN Fayetteville won’t air ECU football over national anthem protest

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) – Colonial Media announced Tuesday its FM radio station will not air Saturday’s East Carolina football game following the Pirates’ marching band National Anthem protest.

Several members of the marching band either took a knee or refused to play the National Anthem during the Oct. 1 game against Central Florida.

Colonial Media and Entertainment CEO Jeff Andrulonis called the band members’ protest “shameful.”

WNCT photo
WNCT photo

He said about a dozen members “disgraced themselves on the football field.”

“I’m proud of our country and I’m proud of our soldiers – especially our soldiers from Fort Bragg fighting for our country so I’ve decided that ESPN Fayetteville will ‘protest the protest,’” Andrulonis said.

Andrulonis said the U.S. Constitution’s “freedom of speech” protections gives them freedom to speak without fear of the government. But not the right to say or do whatever they want with no repercussions.

“I talked with some of our East Carolina football sponsors yesterday and will be talking with more of them today. So far, it has been unanimous,” Andrulonis said. “Every sponsor I’ve talked to agrees that last weekend’s spectacle at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium was shameful and a message needs to be sent.”

ESPN Fayetteville plans to carry the rest of the Pirates’ game this season beginning with their Oct. 13 game against Navy.

At halftime on Saturday, the band was met with many boos as they took the field.

Two members of the N.C. State marching band take a knee while the National Anthem is performed on Oct. 1, 2016. (Jeff Reeves/CBS North Carolina)
Two members of the N.C. State marching band take a knee while the National Anthem is performed on Oct. 1, 2016. (Jeff Reeves/CBS North Carolina)

ECU Chancellor Cecil Staton issued a statement that said the school acknowledges disappointment felt by fans. However, he urged them to act with respect for each other’s views.

On Monday, in an e-mail provided by the university, Dr. William Staub, director of Athletic Bands; Chris Ulffers, director of the School of Music; and Dr. Chris Buddo, dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communication, made the following statement:

We regret the actions taken by 19 members of the East Carolina University Marching Pirates on game day October 1st felt hurtful to many in our Pirate family and disrespectful to our country. We understand and respect this is an issue where emotions are strong.

Also Saturday, at least two members of the N.C. State marching band refused to play the National Anthem before the Wolfpack’s game against Wake Forest.

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