The play-by-play announcer for Montana State University women's basketball was fired after comparing players from Portland State University to "Antifa after a riot," 406MTSports.com reported.
"They might go to jail, but they get out right away," Mark Martello broadcasted following what he believed was a lack of called fouls against Portland State in a late January game, the outlet said. "They can get away with it."
He also compared the city of Portland to the south side of Chicago, the outlet added.
What are the details?
Martello — who was calling the game for ESPN+ and LEARFIELD's Bobcat Sports Properties, Montana State's multimedia rights holder, the outlet said — offered commentary during the fourth quarter regarding Portland State center Rhema Ogele.
"Ogele, from Saint Ignatius College [Prep] in Chicago, which is south side. You've heard of [it]," Martello said. "Portland not much different, I don't think, these days."
Montana State's Mark Martello compares Portland to South Side of Chicagoyoutu.be
The outlet said Martello added in a text with a laughing emoji that he's "been to the south side, a lot. Portland looked worse when we were there last year."
Later in the quarter, Martello complained there were no referee calls after a Montana State Bobcats player "got fouled two or three times" — and then lowered the Antifa boom.
"Evidently, 'Cats are up 19, Portland can get away with whatever they're going to get away with," Martello said. "Portland's like Antifa after a riot. They might go to jail, but they get out right away. They can get away with it."
Martello soon apologized: "Uh-oh. I shouldn't say stuff like that. I'm sorry." Montana State beat Portland State 71-56.
Montana State’s Mark Martello compares Portland to antifayoutu.be
What happened next?
Joe Terry of Big Sky Valhalla tweeted about Martello's words the same day as the game — Jan. 22 — and also copied Leon Castillo, Montana State's director of athletics. On Jan. 23, Terry tweeted that he'd heard Martello had been fired.
Martello told 406mtsports.com that Tom Boman — LEARFIELD'S vice president of broadcast operations — fired him because of Terry's tweets.
But Martello wouldn't apologize.
"I am taking responsibility for what came out of my mouth," Martello soon texted to 406mtsports.com. "I will miss the team and coaches. There will be no apology, no one was harmed."
The outlet said he also texted that "this is part of the world we live in, a big reason why I hate social media. Dumb thing to say maybe, but firing me represents MONTANA values? I think not. MSU promotes Portland values, in Montana. Kneeling is fine, political warm-ups are no problem, but some radio yahoo making wise cracks is a capital offense. Everything I said was true. I guess the truth hurts."
After reaching out to Martello for comment, the Post Millennial said he replied with the following: "As a taxpaying citizen of Montana, I am deeply offended that my tax money goes to institutions that defend terrorism. As a sportscaster, I say lighten up, it was a joke"
MSU in a press release said Martello "has been removed from Montana State's radio broadcast team" and that the decision was made by LEARFIELD. No reason was given in the press release. LEARFIELD and ESPN declined to comment, 406mtsport.com said.
However, the outlet said the Portland State athletic department provided a statement: "That type of commentary has no place in the description of a college basketball game. The portrayal of Portland State was both inaccurate and inappropriate. We appreciate that Montana State acknowledges that as well."
Apart from his now-defunct announcer gig, Martello is a realtor and the CFO of Z's Meze Market, a Mediterranean restaurant in Bozeman he co-founded, 406mtsport.com said.
How are folks reacting?
While a sports columnist for the Portland Oregonian didn't much care for Martello's "pathetic act," others on Twitter didn't see it that way:
- "What’s the big deal? I thought Antifa wasn’t real and mostly peaceful," one commenter said.
- "Speaking facts is a pathetic act?" another user asked rhetorically. "Portland is a dump."
- "That announcer nailed it," a commenter said in response to one of Terry's tweets. "Have you been downtown or watched national or local news at all the past year and a half?"
- "Unprofessional but he’s not wrong," a user said in regard to Martello's words.
- "Commie filth ... [in] ... Portland do what they want when they want," another commenter declared. "They face zero ramifications."