In social media posts, band members described being pushed, shoved and slapped while marching in formation back to their buses at the end of the game, an 18-17 victory for the 18th-ranked Hawkeyes.
“People were physically assaulted,” Corey Knopp, a saxophonist, wrote on Facebook. “We expect to get booed and cussed at. But never for violence to take place. Especially to students in THE BAND of the rival university. No ‘alleges’ no ‘maybes’. This happened.”
“A fan shoved me out of his way as we were marching in formation back to the buses,” Knopp told the Gazette newspaper in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. “He decided to cut through the band and shoved me out of his way. I yelled, ‘Do not put your hands on me, sir,’ and he yelled back, ‘[expletive] you.’ ”
“A girl’s ribs are broken because of fan interaction,” he added. “A member of the band was cornered by a number of males and was assaulted.”
Iowa Athletic Director Gary Barta said Monday he had been informed of “inappropriate actions” toward the band and said the school would investigate. Iowa State officials pledged to look into the allegations, too, according to the Gazette, though Iowa State Athletics Director Jamie Pollard said Iowa had yet to share specific allegations from the band members. Pollard said Iowa State would look at the security camera footage at Jack Trice Stadium to spot potential fan misbehavior.
But later in the week Barta and Pollard released a joint statement condemning “rude, vulgar, and in some cases, violent” conduct directed at both bands in recent years. Barta on Thursday said both schools’ investigations had concluded, according to the Iowa City Press-Citizen.
That frustrated band members, who learned the investigation had ended while rehearsing.
“I had experienced assault and others were injured,” Nathan Topping, another band member, told the Gazette, “and to drop the investigation really lost our trust and support of the athletic department at that point.”
The band continued sharing accounts of the alleged abuse online, which led the university to resume its investigation on Friday.
“The communication on social media made it clear we had not shared enough information with our students about the steps the university has taken to address the concerns raised by members of our marching band,” an Iowa spokeswoman said in a statement provided to The Washington Post. “Student safety is our number one priority and we are committed to ensuring a safe experience on game day for our students. Additionally we are continuing our investigation to ensure all of our students have the ability to share their experiences with the appropriate authorities.”
Iowa band members and representatives from Iowa State did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
A Friday letter to band members from Iowa Deputy Athletics Director Barbara Burke and Music School Director Tammie Walker called the last week “difficult” and offered members “unconditional support.”
“Your safety is of paramount concern to each of us at the university and while we cannot change what occurred last Saturday, we can work to prevent it from occurring again — and that is what we are committed to doing,” the letter read.
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