ESPN has switched announcer Robert Lee off of its broadcast of the University of Virginia's first football game of the season next month, owing to what the network said was "the coincidence of his name".
They said "In that moment it felt right to all parties". Outkick founder Clay Travis lampooned the network for the decision by calling it "MSESPN" in the post. A counterprotester, Heather Heyer, was killed and 19 others were injured when a man allegedly linked to neo-Nazi beliefs reportedly drove his auto into a crowd.
ESPN said the decision to put Lee on another game was made "collectively".
So, Lee, who was scheduled to cover the University of Virginia's home game against William and Mary on September 2, has been reassigned to a game in Pittsburgh.
The decision has been roundly criticised by social media users, who believe that the removal of Lee is at best unnecessary and at worst a ridiculous decision that, given his background, could be seen as racially motivated.
"From 1862 until his surrender in 1865, ESPN college football announcer Robert Lee commanded the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia", one user mocked.
The original play-by-play broadcaster assigned to cover the game was Robert Lee
The "tragic events" mentioned in the statement refer to a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville on August 12. White nationalist marched on Virginia's campus with torches, chanted racial slurs and intimidated counter-protestors. But in switching him from the Virginia game, ESPN did exactly what it set out to avoid - it created an issue.
"I'm sitting here blown away about the ESPN Robert Lee story", Jason Whitlock, the former ESPN personality who now works for FS1, tweeted.
Robert E Lee was a general in the Confederate Army of the south, who fought the Union Army of the north over, among other issues, the right to hold slaves.
Lee used to call Siena basketball games locally.
Lee has not made a public comment.