An Oklahoma sports announcer who was caught on video calling a high school girls basketball team the N-word blamed the racist incident on his Type 1 diabetes.
Matt Rowan, a former youth pastor, identified himself as the announcer in a statement obtained Saturday by NBC News.
In the lengthy response, Rowan said that he believed his microphone was off when he called Norman High School players the racial slur.
“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 have never been uttered,” he said in the statement.
“I have not only embarrassed and disappointed myself I have embarrassed and disappointed my family and my friends.”
In an attempt to offer an explanation, Rowan said his diabetes will sometimes cause him to say “hurtful” comments.
“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,” he said. “I do not believe that I would have made such horrible statements absent my sugar spiking.”
The announcer went on to say that he is not racist and apologized for his comments.
JDRF, a nonprofit advocacy group for Type 1 diabetes research, responded in a tweet, “There are a lot of symptoms of high blood sugar, racism is not one of them.”
There are a lot of symptoms of high blood sugar, racism is not one of them. https://t.co/q9l3Kd49Ne
— JDRF (@JDRF) March 13, 2021
Rowan released the statement through his attorney, who told NBC News that he contacted her “because he wanted to admit and apologize for what he said.”
“I do not condone racial slurs made by anyone; however, as attorneys it is our job to assist people to deal with the consequences of their behavior regardless of the behaviors,” Janet Bickel Hutson said.
In a video of Thursday’s game, an announcer is heard asking if Norman’s players were kneeling on the court during the national anthem.
“I hope Norman gets their a– kicked,” Rowan said in the video. “F—— n——.”
Rowan was working with another announcer during the game. He said in his statement that his colleague did not use any racial slurs and he does not want him to “share in the blame of this most unfortunate incident.”
Dr. Nick Migliorino, superintendent of Norman Public Schools, said he was outraged that “racist and hateful comments” were directed at the team.
The city’s mayor, Breea Clark, said she was “livid and absolutely disgusted” by what was said.
“These young athletes were simply expressing themselves as hundreds of professional athletes around the nation have done, and no one, let alone a child, deserves to experience this kind of racist and toxic behavior,” she said in a series of tweets.
“The announcer could’ve stopped with declaring he hoped our team would lose, but instead he went further and decided to use profanity and racist slurs about our children,” Clark wrote.
The broadcast team for the game was hired by the National Federation of High School (NFHS) Network, which streams high school sports. The network released a statement Friday and said it was “aggressively investigating” the incident and has “cut ties with the third-party production crew that was involved.”
“We apologize for and are sickened by the comments made last night at the start of our broadcast of the OSSAA girls basketball game between Norman High School and Midwest City High School,” the network said in a statement. “The thoughts expressed in no way represent our network, and we are outraged that they found their way into the production.”