The radio play-by-play announcer for Montana State University basketball games was fired Monday after a broadcast in which he compared Portland to the South Side of Chicago and Portland State University women’s basketball players to “antifa after a riot.”
The firing of Mark Martello, first reported by independent journalist Joe Terry and confirmed by the website 406 MT Sports, follows a Jan. 22 women’s basketball game in Bozeman, Mont., where Martello made disparaging remarks about Portland.
While telling listeners about the play of PSU center Rhema Ogele in the game’s fourth quarter, Martello noted that she attended high school on Chicago’s South Side. “Portland not much different, I don’t think, these days,” he added. He later confirmed that was a reference to Portland’s record spike in gun violence.
Later in the same quarter, Martello observed that a Montana State player had been fouled several times.
“Portland can get away with whatever they’re gonna get away with,” he said. “Portland’s like antifa after a riot. They might go to jail but they get out right away.”
On Monday, the MSU sports radio production company fired Martello.
“This decision was made by MSU Athletics’ longtime multimedia rights holder, Learfield’s Bobcat Sports Properties,” the university said in a statement. “For the remainder of the 2022 season, play-by-play responsibilities for women’s basketball will be handled by Tom Schulz, Montana State’s director of athletic communications for women’s basketball.”
A Portland State University spokeswoman tells WW that university leadership will not comment on the matter. “The announcer made an irrelevant, out-of-context comment that was completely disrespectful to athletes on both teams,” Christina Williams added.
In text messages to 406 MT Sports, Martello was unapologetic.
“There will be no apology, no one was harmed,” he wrote.
“Dumb thing to say maybe, but firing me represents MONTANA values?” he continued. “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.”