SPORTS

ESPN Pulls Broadcaster From Virginia Game Because His Name Is Robert Lee

The sports network said the move had nothing to do with "politically correct efforts."

08/23/2017 08:04 EDT | Updated 08/23/2017 11:39 EDT

ESPN confirmed Tuesday it removed Asian-American announcer Robert Lee from a college football game in Charlottesville, Virginia, because he shares a name with Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

It was a Charlottesville rally to preserve a statue of Lee that touched off violent protests involving white supremacists earlier this month. The fallout includes a bitter national debate about the fate of Confederate statues.

Here’s Lee on the right:

So, Lee, who was scheduled to cover the University of Virginia’s home game against William and Mary on Sept. 2, has been reassigned to a game in Pittsburgh.

Some outlets quickly criticized the move as political correctness to the extreme. But in a statement to HuffPost contributor Yashar Ali, the network said it had practical reasons for its action: fearing that its employee would be subject to an avalanche of memes, jokes and other unwelcome publicity. 

Lee did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Still, one well-known ESPN veteran with a similar name couldn’t resist a dig.