Matt Rowan, a Norman, Oklahoma sports announcer, has faced public condemnation after he was overheard using the “n” word on a hot mic.
The incident occurred Thursday during a state championship game between Midwest City High School and Norman High School girls basketball teams. As the national anthem began to play, the young women of Norman High School knelt. Rowan, who believed his mic was off, immediately expressed his indignation.
“They’re kneeling? F**k them. I hope Norman gets their a** kicked,” Rowan said to his co-announcer Scott Sapulpa. Both men are contract announcers from the National Federation of High School Network (NFHSN).
This is Matt Rowan who blamed calling teenagers the N-word on his diabetes. Initially, Matt lied and told multiple media outlets that it was his close friend who used the slur. https://t.co/lHbxdcyXoP pic.twitter.com/yHiyIWoT4j
— Resist Programming 🛰 (@RzstProgramming) March 13, 2021
Rowan continued with his expletive-filled rant, adding a racial slur to his hateful speech. “I hope they lose. Come on Midwest City. They’re gonna kneel like that? H*ll no…F*****g n*****s.”
After Rowan made his racist comment, his microphone appears to have been muted, but it was too late. The next day Norman High School coach Frankie Parks tweeted the explosive audio.
“Hey @NFHSNetwork looks like you forgot to cut the Mic!!! “F****** N******” is the one that really got me!! Tell us how you really feel!! THIS IS WHY THEY KNEEL!!!,” Parks tweeted.
Hey @NFHSNetwork looks like you forgot to cut the Mic!!! "F****** N******" is the one that really got me!! Tell us how you really feel!! THIS IS WHY THEY KNEEL!!!@Migliorino_Nick @tohara_o @NHS_AthDept @gonormantigers pic.twitter.com/mmWQAecLaF
— Frankie Parks (@CoachFParks) March 12, 2021
The high school coach’s tweet went viral as people expressed their disgust over the offensive comments. Norman Public School system swiftly issued a statement condemning Rowan’s hurtful words and affirmed their students’ right to free speech.
“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,” Superintendent Dr. Nick Migliorino said in an official statement. “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.”
Rowan, a former youth pastor and current member of the baptist church, issued an apology that only garnered greater criticism.
“I, Matt Rowan, on Thursday, March 11, 2021, most regrettably made some statements that cannot be taken back. During the Norman High School girls basketball game against Midwest City, I made inappropriate and racist comments believing that the microphone was off; however, let me state immediately that is no excuse such comments should never be uttered,” Rowan wrote.
Rowan continued before blaming his conduct, in part, on his Type I Diabetes.
“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 the sugar spikes that I become disorientated and often say things that are not appropriate as well as hurtful,” explained the announcer. “I do not believe that I would have made such horrible statements absent my sugar spiking.”
The announcer who made the racist statements is partially blaming it on low blood sugar. pic.twitter.com/6cTwIZdJZI
— Dylan Goforth (@DGoforth918) March 12, 2021
Not surprisingly, people found this apology unacceptable and mocked the idea that racism is a side effect of Type I Diabetes.
“…in the statement, Matt Rowan blames his racist comments and use of the n-word on type 1 diabetes. HE BLAMED RACISM ON HIS SUGAR SPIKE,” tweeted Taylor Rooks.
“I checked Type 1 Diabetes symptoms and it doesn’t mention it turns one into a raging racist,” wrote another Twitter user.
“Y’all. Maybe the royal family just needed some insulin,” Nina Parker sarcastically wrote, referring both to Rowan and Oprah’s recent interview of Harry and Meghan.
Despite the controversy, Norman High School went on to claim the state championship after having an undefeated season. The school tweeted about the victory.
“48-37 TIGERS WIN STATE!!!! (AGAIN) Undefeated in so many ways.”
48-37 TIGERS WIN STATE!!!! (AGAIN) Undefeated in so many ways. pic.twitter.com/y9QXgynuqG
— Norman High Tigers (@gonormantigers) March 13, 2021