Refs who bolted over football players’ protest: We’re not racists
TRENTON — What is the next step in the controversy over father-and-son referees who walked off the field before last Friday's Monroe (Middlesex)-Colts Neck game?
Ernie Lunardelli, 54 and his 27-year-old son Anthony left the game Friday night between Colts Neck and Monroe high schools after some of the Monroe players knelt during the national anthem.
The two previously said that while they respect the players' right to protest, they felt such acts were disrespectful.
Several players with Monroe High School have been kneeling all season. Athletic Director Greg Beyer has not the protests to continue, and compared it to not standing for the Pledge of Allegiance in class.
Scott Heiser, chairman of the Central Jersey chapter of the New Jersey Football Officials Association, told MyCentralJersey.com the NJSIAA has asked his group to do a preliminary investigation into the incident. An emergency board of review hearing will be held later in the week, according to Heiser.
NJSIAA spokesman Michael Cherenson told New Jersey 101.5 the organization is aware of what happened and will be gathering information. He did not know if either team had filed a protest over the incident.
NJ.com reported that one of the referees, Ernie Lunardelli, posted on Facebook, on the day Donald Trump was inaugurated as president, "Yea! Thanks for f**king up the country! Back to the zoo!!!"
And after the 2012 Super Bowl, a post by Anthony Lundarelli's page says Eli Manning did not deserve to be named MVP and the Giants won the game thanks to "jew luck."
Both posts were reproduced on the news site.
Ernie Lunardelli told the site that his account was hacked. He said his best friend is African-American and lives in a North Brunswick condo he owns. He said he told GMC officials that he would leave if players took a knee during the game.
Heizer told NJ.com that had Ernie Lunardelli told officials they were going to walk off the field, they could have easily been replaced. Instead, Heizer said, two inexperienced "cadet" officials worked the game.
Ernie Lunardelli told the news site he and his son were unassigned from Saturday's game between Spotswood and Raritan. Ernie Lundardelli said he believes he is being blackballed and has hired a lawyer.
Reporting by the Associated Press was used in this post.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.