Iowa Football

Iowa, Iowa State say both marching bands 'have been the target of unacceptable behavior'

Gary Barta, Jamie Pollard issue joint statement

The Iowa Hawkeyes Marching Band sits in the stands during the first quarter of the college football game between the Iow
The Iowa Hawkeyes Marching Band sits in the stands during the first quarter of the college football game between the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Iowa State Cyclones at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, Iowa on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

Members of the Hawkeye and Cyclone marching bands have been subject to conduct that’s “rude, vulgar and, in some cases, violent” at football games in recent years, athletic directors at the Iowa public universities said Wednesday in a joint statement that brought little clarity to vague accusations made in the wake of last Saturday’s raucous rivalry.

“We should all feel embarrassed when students in the bands don’t feel safe when performing at an away game,” University of Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta and Iowa State University Athletics Director Jamie Pollard said in the joint statement, not explaining what that behavior has entailed.

Both schools, according to the statement, are “committed to doing whatever is necessary to improve the environment for visiting school marching bands in the future.” Part of that means insisting fans also show more respect to visitors, the directors said.

“We owe it to these hardworking performers to have a safe stage on which they can showcase their spirit and talent.”

The statement comes after Barta said Monday he had contacted ISU to gather information about reports of “inappropriate actions” directed toward student and staff members of the Hawkeye Marching Band.

Pollard, in a response, said Tuesday he couldn’t comment because he wasn’t privy to the vague accusations.

“What we do know is the band traveled here with four police officers — one from the University of Iowa and three deputies from the Polk County Sheriff’s office. Our police chief, Chief (Michael) Newton, spoke with the police chief at the University of Iowa, and not one of those four officers saw anything, reported anything and, most importantly, had anybody in the band or any of the band directors share anything with them about anything that happened the day they were here,” he said.

On Wednesday, UI officials told The Gazette their police department has no incident reports related to the Saturday game in Ames. ISU has not responded to requests it provide any police reports from the game.

When asked Wednesday about the issue, UI President Bruce Harreld said he thinks his institution has “investigated it as thoroughly as we could” and hopes for better behavior going forward.

“I would hope both schools sit down and think about safety for our fans and our players and our bands and come to some agreement of what the protocol is in Iowa City as well as in Ames,” he said.

ISU President Wendy Wintersteen also renewed her call for mutual respect between the opposing teams’ fans.

“We really want — whether we are at Iowa State or the University of Iowa — that our fans respect the band, our players and each other. That’s our goal for everybody.”

When allegations first came to ISU’s attention, Wintersteen said, her institution began an inquiry that she believes has been completed.

As news of the concerns spread across social media, some fans called for an end to the annual rivalry game between the schools or a stop to the tradition of bringing in visiting marching bands. Unless both sides agree to end the contractual game, one side’s insistence to exit the agreement could cost it $1 million.

As to halting the visiting-band tradition, Harreld didn’t rule it out.

“We’ll see,” he said. “If we can’t protect our fans and can’t protect our band and others, yeah, there could be changes.”

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