ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Former U.S. Sen. Jim Webb announced that he will not accept a Naval Academy Alumni Association award because of recent protests from other alumni.

Media outlets report that several alumni wrote to the association starting last week, asking the organization to rescind the Distinguished Graduate Award planned for Webb, a 1968 graduate, because of his record of statements on women in the military.

The award ceremony will take place Friday at the academy.

In 1979, Webb wrote an essay for Washingtonian magazine called “Women Can’t Fight.” In it, he said that presence of women “at institutions dedicated to the preparation of men for combat command is poisoning that preparation.”

Webb announced Tuesday that he wouldn’t be accepting the award. He said his support for the advancement of women in the military has “been so wrongly characterized.”