Band protest prompts ECU-USF radio boycott
Six weeks after 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick first took a knee during the national anthem, the ripple effect has reached USF. Sort of.
An East Carolina radio affiliate in Fayetteville, N.C., will not broadcast Saturday's ECU-USF football game after several Pirates band members took a knee or refused to perform the national anthem prior to last Saturday's home game against UCF.
Jeff Andrulonis, chairman/CEO of Colonial Media and Entertainment, called the protest a "shameful" disrespect of the anthem. A Pennsylvania-owned company, Colonial operates 100.1-FM in Fayetteville and the ESPN Fayetteville website.
"Several members of the band refused to play the national anthem and others ‘took a knee’ during the performance, with the result that roughly a dozen band members disgraced themselves on the football field this past weekend," Andrulonis said in a statement.
"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.’
"I talked with some of our East Carolina football sponsors (Monday) and will be talking with more of them today. So far, it has been unanimous. 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."
On Tuesday, several former presidents of ECU's Black Student Union issued a statement supporting the band members' protest. A day earlier, ECU athletic director Jeff Compher said his department is working with the university and school of music in response to the incident.
"While the marching band does not report to athletics, we do count on them to be an important part of the game-day experience," Compher said in a statement.
"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."
Also on Monday, band director William Staub, School of Music director Christopher Ulffers and College of Fine Arts and Communication dean Christopher Buddo issued a joint statement saying they “regret the actions” of those 19 band members and expect they “will learn from this experience and fulfill their responsibilities.”
Andrulonis indicated the radio boycott is for Saturday's game only.