Oklahoma high school announcer hurls expletives, racial slur when team kneels for national anthem

A basketball sits on the court
The Norman High School girls basketball team kneeled in protest during the national anthem on Thursday in a state quarterfinals game. An announcer called them, "f***ing n******" on the broadcast. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

An announcer calling an Oklahoma girls high school basketball game on Thursday night directed a racial slur and expletives at a team when players kneeled during the national anthem.

The Norman High girls basketball team took a knee in protest — something that has become commonplace in sports across all levels — ahead of their quarterfinals matchup with Midwest City on Thursday night.

The announcer was calling the game for an online broadcast on the NFHS Network. When he started seeing the protest, the announcer took offense and started slamming the team, though he appeared to not know that his microphone was still on.

Warning: This video contains language that is NSFW.

“They’re kneeling? F***ing n******. I hope Norman gets their ass kicked ... F*** them. I hope they lose.

“They’re going to kneel like that? Hell no.”

The announcer, Matt Rowan, was hired by the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association. He could be heard using the racial slur twice during the anthem before the broadcast returned.

Announcer blames racism, in part, on blood sugar

Rowan put out a statement Friday afternoon apologizing. He blamed his comments in part on spiking blood sugar and his Type 1 Diabetes.

"I made inappropriate and racist comments believing the microphone was off, however let me state immediately that is no excuse such comments should have never been uttered," Rowan said in a statement, in part. "I am a family man. I am married, have two children and at one time was a youth pastor. I continue to be a member of the Baptist church. I have not only embarrassed and disappointed my family and friends.

"I will state that I suffer Type 1 Diabetes and during the game my sugar was spiking. While not excusing my remarks it is not unusual when my sugar spikes that I become disoriented and often say things that are not appropriate as well as hurtful. I do not believe that I would have made such horrible statements absent my sugar spiking."

Norman superintendent, NFHS condemn comments

Norman Public Schools superintendent Dr. Nick Migliorino condemned those announcers in a statement Friday, and said that the district will no longer use the NFHS Network for games through the remainder of the tournament.

"We condemn and will not tolerate the disgusting words and attitudes of these announcers. This type of hate speech has no place in our society and we are outraged that it would be directed at any human being, and particularly at our students,” Migliorino said in a statement, via The Oklahoman.

"We fully support our students’ right to freedom of expression and our immediate focus is to support these girls and their coaches and families, particularly our Black students and coaching staff. It is tragic that the hard work and skill of this team is being overshadowed by the vile, malignant words of these individuals. We will do everything in our power to support and uplift our team and everyone affected by this incident."

The NFHS Network issued a statement Friday apologizing, too.

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