Iowa State Cyclones

'Economic engine' of Cy-Hawk rivalry will continue, officials say

Iowa State athletic leader seeks to dispel 'misinformation'

Members of the UI marching band perform on the field Sept. 14 at a football game rivalry between the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Iowa State Cyclones at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames. Iowa won the game by a point, 18-17. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Members of the UI marching band perform on the field Sept. 14 at a football game rivalry between the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Iowa State Cyclones at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames. Iowa won the game by a point, 18-17. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
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As far as Iowa State University and the governor are concerned, the “economic engine” that is the annual Cy-Hawk matchup between ISU and the University of Iowa is not in jeopardy — despite comments from UI President Bruce Harreld and bad behavior on both sides of the rivalry.

“Iowa State is 100 percent committed to this series going forward, and (UI Athletic Director) Gary Barta has shared with me that he’s 100 percent committed to this series going forward,” ISU Athletic Director Jamie Pollard said Tuesday at a news conference.

Pollard said he “absolutely” believes members of the Hawkeye Marching Band experienced “embarrassing” and “shameful” heckling and rudeness during the Sept. 14 matchup at Jack Trice Stadium. in Ames.

“Why do I feel that way?” Pollard said. “Because I know it’s happened to our band multiple times in Iowa City.

“Our fans need to do a better job policing our fans. But so do the Iowa fans,” said Pollard, who called the impromptu news conference to dispel what he called “misinformation” after several members of the Hawkeye Marching Band went public with accusations of sexual and physical assault, verbal harassment, and poor ISU fan behavior that sent one woman to the hospital with broken ribs.

Pollard stressed Tuesday that UI police had not forwarded any reports to ISU police about sexual assault, racial slurs or intentional physical assault — beyond postgame shoving as fans worked their way through the stadium’s crowded exit.

Pollard said the Hawkeye Marching Band during the long rain-delayed game could have made better choices itself.

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For example, he said, the band chose a crowded exit to leave through after the game even as the east gate “was completely wide open.”

“Our security personnel advised the Iowa marching band that it would be best for them to exit to the east, like our band did and had no issues,” Pollard said. “For whatever reason, the Iowa marching band did not do that.”

It instead left the stadium by the west exit.

“The Iowa marching band marched in formation, playing their instruments into the back of that crowd, and essentially forced their way through the crowd,” he said. “There was no place for anybody to go.”

The stadium’s west exit was about 100 yards away from where the band’s bus was parked, according to Pollard.

“Had they gone out the east side, they would have come out 150 yards from the buses,” he said.

Members of the Hawkeye Marching Band responded to Pollard’s finger-wagging Tuesday with disappointment.

Trumpet player Nathan Topping, 19 — who was bruised by a flying beer bottle while marching into the game — said security rushed the band off the field by the quickest route, which was the closest to the buses.

“It’s unfair of Pollard to make assumptions about an experience he was not involved in,” Topping said. “For him to say that this was a typical band encounter with fans is not acceptable.”

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Member Corey Knopp, 21 — who also said he was assaulted — asserted the band wasn’t advised to take a different exit.

“We had an ISU staff member screaming and cussing at us to leave,” Knopp said. “There was no other exit we could’ve used. We used the closest exit to our buses.”

He took issue with implications the band is lying about what had happened.

“People can think what they want. We know it happened. Iowa City knows it happened. Ames knows it happened. Barta and Pollard know it happened,” he said. “It’s disheartening to know that he doesn’t care about students,” Knopp said. “He only seems to care about the Cy-Hawk series.”

UI President Harreld last week told The Gazette he would not rule out ending the Cy-Hawk series if fan behavior doesn’t improve. And this week he told The Daily Iowan student newspaper that “something really bad happened in Ames” and “we’re going to get to the bottom of this.”

“If it means we’re not going to play again, we’re not going to play again,” Harreld said.

Pollard took specific issue with those comments Tuesday, asserting Harreld is spreading a false narrative.

“The statement that ‘something really bad happened’ has created another narrative that there’s something else out there that wasn’t part of those five allegations,” Pollard said. “If there is, then somebody needs to come forward and share that with us.”

He and ISU police Chief Michael Newton laid out the five allegations that came from UI officials about the Cy-Hawk game day events:

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Someone threw beer on a UI teaching assistant; someone threw something at the football team’s bus, breaking a window; the Hawkeye Marching Band director had a verbal altercation with the ISU director of facilities as the Iowa band was beginning to exit; following the game, a member of the Hawkeye Marching band tried to enter a facility through the ISU football team locker room entrance and was denied, resulting in a confrontation with security; and a member of the marching band carrying a ladder suffered broken ribs after falling into the ladder when another band member was shoved.

“Chief Newton and his team fully investigated to the best of our ability those five incidents and concluded that it was going to be really tough to know exactly what happened,” Pollard said.

He said no one has provided any reports of sexual violence. “If that did happen, that is horrific, and somebody needs to tell us,” he said.

The UI continues to investigate allegations of violence, Barta said Tuesday, although no one has filed a complaint.

Though Harreld and ISU President Wendy Wintersteen indicated last week their investigation were over, Barta said he never wrapped up his inquiry.

“And it’s still not closed,” he said. “Every day we’re checking in with those students who have been wronged. They were wronged. We had students at that game that were mistreated. We’ve met with them. Our office of sexual misconduct response has met with them. They’ve been afforded the opportunity to meet with law enforcement. We’re still there to support them.”

Reynolds: Work it out

Minutes before Pollard made his comments, Gov. Kim Reynolds said Tuesday ending the Iowa-Iowa State football rivalry is not an option.

“I have full confidence in the two universities sitting down and being able to figure this out,” she told reporters.

Both presidents — along with University of Northern Iowa President Mark Nook — have agreed to iron out safety protocols before next year’s Cy-Hawk football match up, which Pollard said will happen.

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“The Cy-Hawk game is one of the greatest economic engines this state has,” Pollard said.

“So we are doing a disservice to this state, to the University of Iowa and to Iowa State University, to allow misinformation to be perpetuated to bring us all down,” Pollard said, taking offense to the negative light the allegations cast on Cyclone fans.

Barta said he’s confident the annual game will continue. But he acknowledged the seriousness of the situation and why Harreld made the comments he did.

“I know he said it. I know he meant it, and I know what he meant by it,” Barta said. “That is, he’s concerned, I’m concerned that the safety of the participants of our game has to be No. 1.”

Comments: (319) 339-3158; vanessa.miller@thegazette.com

Rod Boshart and Mike Hlas of The Gazette contributed to this report.

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