PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – A Montana State University sports play-by-play announcer has been fired for comments he made during a live broadcast of a women’s basketball game against Portland State University Saturday comparing the PSU players to antifa.
Mark Martello was fired by LEARFIELD, a sports radio production company, after he compared Portland to the South Side of Chicago and said PSU players were “like antifa after a riot. They might go to jail, but they get out right away. They can get away with it.”
Saturday’s game took place in Bozeman. In a broadcast recording of the game that aired on ESPN+, Martello points out that PSU center Rhema Ogele attended Saint Ignatius College Prep in Chicago, “which is South Side,” he said. He then went on to say, “Portland [is] not much different, I don’t think, these days.”
St. Ignatius College Prep is actually in Chicago’s West Side, in the Near West Side Neighborhood. In text messages sent to 406 MT Sports, Martello said he was referencing the rising crime in Portland and comparing it to crime in the South Side of Chicago. Martello said he visited Portland in 2021 and said it looked worse than the South Side.
A couple minutes after making that remark during the game, Martello said MSU’s Kola Bad Bear had been fouled “two or three times” on a play where she missed a shot, but no foul was called. He then said, “Evidently, Cats are up 19, Portland can get away with whatever they’re going to get away with. Portland’s like antifa after a riot. They might go to jail, but they get out right away. They can get away with it.”
In a statement, Montana State University announced Martello had been removed from the broadcast team Monday and that Bobcat football and men’s basketball play-by-play announcer Zach Mackey would provide commentary for the MSU women’s basketball game that night.
MSU said the decision was made by LEARFIELD, Martello’s employer and the university’s media rights holder. The university said Tom Schultz, MSU’s director of athletic communications for women’s basketball, would handle play-by-play responsibilities for the remainder of the 2022 season.
In text messages to 406 MT Sports, Martello said he will miss the team and coaches but will not apologize because no one was harmed.
Mike Lund, associate athletics director at Portland State University, shared a statement with KOIN 6 News in response to Martello’s comments: “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.”
KOIN 6 News reached out to LEARFIELD for comment but did not receive a response before deadline. We will update the story if we receive one.