Football Fans vs. Marching Band

Future football games between the University of Iowa and Iowa State are debated after altercations between fans and the visiting marching band.

September 26, 2019
 
John Cordes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The fate of a 125-year tradition is unclear after a dustup between the marching band of the University of Iowa and fans of Iowa State University's football team.

Members of the Hawkeyes marching band say they were roughed up by Cyclones fans as they exited the field after the yearly matchup between the rivals on Sept. 14.

Their claims of verbal and physical abuse were investigated, but officials couldn't determine who was at fault. The two teams' athletic directors agreed on some policy changes and agreed it was best to move forward. That's when the finger-pointing ensued.

Now fans of both teams are wondering if the annual tradition will continue.

Things heated up on Sept. 23 when University of Iowa president Bruce Harreld told the student newspaper that the two universities may have to stop the “Cy-Hawk” game altogether if safety can’t be guaranteed. He suggested that athletics and public safety officials from the University of Iowa, Iowa State and the University of Northern Iowa should discuss game-day procedures and come up with procedural changes to keep all Iowa students and spectators safe, the Des Moines Register reported.

“I’m clearly expecting we can work through this,” Harreld said in the interview with The Daily Iowan. “But if for some reason, one party or the other doesn’t come to the table, then no, why would we?”

Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard and his counterpart at the University of Iowa, Gary Barta, agreed that an investigation into the incidents had been thoroughly completed and the best they could do is move forward with policy changes, Pollard said during a press conference Sept. 24. Once displeased band members learned the complaints would not be pursued further, they went public with five specific allegations against Iowa State fans, ranging from thrown objects to shoving, which resulted in an injured band member.

Barta told reporters Tuesday that officials would continue looking into the incidents.

The alleged incidents took place as the marching band exited onto a crowded pathway outside Iowa State’s Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, Iowa. Overhead video surveillance captured band members marching and playing their instruments while pressed against departing fans. The band members claim fans poured beer on their teaching assistant, threw an object at the Hawkeye football team’s bus -- which cracked the vehicle’s windshield -- and pushed against a band member who was carrying a ladder, breaking some of his ribs in the process.

There were also two separate verbal confrontations. In one incident, the Hawkeye band manager and Iowa State facilities director argued as the band exited the stadium. In the other incident, the stadium security guard exchanged words with a Hawkeye band member who attempted to enter the stadium through the rival Iowa State football locker room, according to reports. Pollard and Michael Newton, the Iowa State police chief, confirmed both incidents on Tuesday.

Early media reports of the altercations included a sexual assault allegation, the Register reported, but Pollard said Iowa State police had not received specific reports about this claim.

“If that did happen, that’s horrific and somebody needs to tell us, because that’s something that should be investigated to its fullest extent,” Pollard said.

Barta and Pollard have both said they have no intention of canceling the annual game, which is an "economic engine" for the state, the Gazette newspaper reported.

Pollard, along with Iowa State president Wendy Wintersteen, did condemn the actions of the “very few fans who decided to behave in a rude and inappropriate manner,” Wintersteen said during the press conference Tuesday.

However, Pollard suggested the Hawkeye marching band could have avoided the tightly packed crowd of more than 1,000 departing fans by simply using a different stadium exit, which he said the band was directed to do. Instead, the band “marched aggressively out of the stadium” -- after the Hawkeyes beat the Cyclones by one point -- pushing against Iowa State fans because of the limited space, according to Newton.

Pollard said University of Iowa fans have acted just as inappropriately toward Iowa State when Cy-Hawk games have been held on the Hawkeyes’ campus.

“Everything that has happened to the [University of] Iowa band has happened to our band multiple times,” Pollard said. “It’s embarrassing that that’s happened -- it’s inexcusable -- but it’s happened at both places.”

The University of Iowa Athletics communications office did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

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