Colonial Media and Entertainment, which owns and operates an ESPN affiliate radio station in Fayetteville, announced Tuesday that it has chosen not to air East Carolina’s game against USF this Saturday, the company announced in a press release.
Prior to ECU’s game last Saturday against UCF, more than a dozen members of the school’s marching band either knelt or didn’t play their instruments during the playing of the national anthem, continuing the string of protests that have gained steam the past several weeks. In the release, CME stated that not airing ECU’s game this weekend is an attempt to “protest the protest,” and after “taking a knee” for the game they will resume broadcasts of Pirates games the remainder of the season.
Company chairman/CEO Jeff Andrulonis said he “fully supports the rights of the band members to protest,” the release read, “but they need to understand that the US 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.”
“The band members could have quietly protested in the early morning hours before the game. But that would’ve required them to wake up early,” a statement attributed to Andrulonis began. “So instead they chose to make a spectacle of themselves in front of the big crowd at Dowdy-Ficklen. They’re college students and it’s about time they got an education on the concept that their actions have consequences.”
Andrulonis added that the band members who took part in the “shameful” protest “disgraced themselves,” and that every sponsor he has spoken to supports the boycott of this weekend’s game.
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
Monday afternoon, prior to the decision not to air the upcoming game, ECU athletic director Jeff Compher released a statement addressing the situation.
We are working with the University and the School of Music in response to the incident with the band prior to the game on Saturday. While the Marching Band does not report to Athletics, we do count on them to be an important part of the game day experience.
There are ongoing conversations with the University, the School of Music and the band, and we are confident that there will be a positive resolution for future games.
Our football program relies on the passion of our fan base and we will continue to proudly lead our team out of the tunnel with the American Flag for each and every game.