Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank became the second business leader Monday to step down from President Trump’s American Manufacturing Council, following Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier. Whereas Frazier strongly signaled that his resignation came in reaction to the weekend events in Charlottesville and the president’s response, Plank issued a more vague statement about his decision.
“I am appreciative of the opportunity to have served, but have decided to step down from the council,” Plank said. “I love our country and our company and will continue to focus my efforts on inspiring every person that they can do anything through the power of sport which promotes unity, diversity and inclusion.”
After meeting with the president on the latter’s first full day in office in January, Plank received some criticism in February, when he described Trump as “an asset.” Warriors guard Steph Curry, one of Under Armour’s most high-profile endorsers, said, “I agree with that description, if you remove the ‘et.’ ”
The company subsequently issued a statement in which it said, “We engage in policy, not politics.” Under Armour added, “We have teammates from different religions, races, nationalities, genders and sexual orientations; different ages, life experiences and opinions.
“This is the core of our company. At Under Armour, our diversity is our strength, and we will continue to advocate for policies that Protect Our House, our business, our team, and our community.”
Trump received widespread criticism for failing to specifically rebuke white nationalists while a rally in Charlottesville, was underway. After a driver who reportedly espoused racist and pro-Nazi views killed a woman and injured 19 others, Trump condemned “the egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides,” repeating, “On many sides.”
On Monday, Trump denounced “the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups,” saying “Racism is evil and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs.”
“America’s leaders must honor our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy,” Frazier said. “As CEO of Merck and as a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism.”
Trump was quick to attack Frazier on Twitter, saying, “Now that Ken Frazier of Merck Pharma has resigned from President’s Manufacturing Council, he will have more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!” At a meeting with pharmaceutical executives in July, Trump had described Frazier as one of “the great, great leaders of business in this country.”
Unlike his response to the resignation of Frazier, who is among the few African American chief executives of Fortune 500 companies, Trump had nothing to say publicly about Plank’s decision. “Under Armour engages in innovation and sports, not politics,” Plank said in his statement.
Plank and Frazier were followed by Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, who also announced he would leave the group, saying he “resigned because I want to make progress, while many in Washington seem more concerned with attacking anyone who disagrees with them.” Meanwhile, Curry seemed pretty happy about something.