MONROE (Middlesex) — A pair of father and son high school football officials who walked off the field after members of one team knelt during the national anthem have resigned.

The New Jersey Football Officials Association accepted the resignations that Ernie and Anthony Lunardelli submitted at the end of the 2017 season.

The resignation effectively ends an investigation that the group launched when the pair told officials from Colts Neck and Monroe high schools before the Oct. 27 game that they would not officiate if any players protested. They were replaced after four Monroe players took a knee on their home field.

The trend of kneeling during the national anthem started in the NFL, where some players kneel to protest social injustices, particularly against African-Americans.

The Lunardellis previously said that while they respect the players' right to protest, they felt such acts were disrespectful.

Scott Heiser, a former chairman of the officials association, told the Home News Tribune he can't imagine a scenario in which they'll ever officiate another high school game.

"We've tried to tell our officials they are there to do a job under an officiating contract and they should honor it," Heiser said. "To the greatest extent possible, they should leave their politics at home and remember they are there to do a job, there for the kids, there for the game," he added.

Monroe Township School District policy permits the type of peaceful protests the athletes held, according to athletics director Greg Beyer.

"We have to follow what is in the policy and pretty much the policy is if a kid doesn't want to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, that's his constitutional right," said Beyer.

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