Hawkeye Marching Band director addresses band after Cy-Hawk game mistreatment allegations

“I appreciate our students’ courageous spirit in coming forward with the truth about everything that happened,” Band Director Eric Bush said in a message to the band family.


David Harmantas

Members of the Iowa Marching Band come onto the field before a game against Northwestern University on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018 at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City.

Marissa Payne, Editor-in-Chief

After several Hawkeye Marching Band members publicly alleged facing physical harassment at the Sept. 14 Cy-Hawk game in Ames, band Director Eric Bush on Sept. 20 released a statement to the “band family” to emphasize his support for the student musicians.

“The Hawkeye Marching Band takes great pride in our performances, both inside Kinnick Stadium and on the road,” he said in the statement. “It is an honor to represent the University of Iowa and the Hawkeye spirit on the field, in the stands, and everywhere else we perform. We thrive on everything that makes college football great: passion, drive, commitment to excellence, and friendly competition.”

He thanked the Iowa State University Cyclone Football Varsity Marching Band for being “gracious and welcoming hosts” at the Sept. 14 rivalry-series game at Jack Trice Stadium. Bush said both schools’ bands have been subjected to behavior from opposing fans “that is unacceptable and has no place in the game-day atmosphere.”

“Rivalries can create some of the most fun, exciting moments in college football, but when they bring out the worst in fans, nobody wins,” he said, noting that band students and staff on Sept. 14 were targets of behavior that he said was rude, vulgar, and sometimes violent.

Hawkeye Marching Band members told The Daily Iowan that one band member allegedly suffered broken ribs. Band member Nathan Topping alleged that he was bruised by a thrown beer can.

RELATED: Video: Hawkeye Marching Band member alleges being bruised by beer can at Cy-Hawk game

Bush said he could not elaborate on details of the alleged incidents to protect students’ privacy but said, “We are providing the necessary support and resources for our students to move forward.”

Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta on Sept. 16 released a statement that offered no details of the alleged mistreatment, stating that the department “has been made aware of inappropriate actions made toward student members and staff of the Hawkeye Marching Band” during the Cy-Hawk game and that the ISU and Iowa Athletics Departments were working to gather additional information.

On Sept. 19, Barta said the UI was shutting down the investigation.

By then, band members shared allegations of the physical harassment they said they faced through the media and social media.

RELATED: Marching Band allegations from Cy-Hawk game emerge

“I am grateful to have had the support of the University of Iowa and Hawkeye athletics as we became aware of the full extent to which these events occurred,” Bush said. “It took a number of days to gather complete information from a group this large. Furthermore, I appreciate our students’ courageous spirit in coming forward with the truth about everything that happened.”

Band member Corey Knopp said in a Facebook post that has since garnered more than 1,300 reactions that officials earlier this week told students to “be careful what you post on social media.”

To that, Knopp wrote in his post: “And today I no longer care. Thank you Iowa athletics and the University of Iowa for showing me that when I’m physically assaulted at an away football game as a part of the Hawkeye Marching Band, you don’t have my back and you don’t care.”

Knopp wrote that the post was not directed toward Bush, who he said “has been fighting for us since Saturday,” instead directing his frustration at higher-ranking officials. He did not name any particular officials.

RELATED: UI continuing investigation into Marching Band’s Cy-Hawk game mistreatment allegations

The UI on Sept. 20 reversed course on closing the investigation into the matter, announcing that it is continuing the investigation. Additionally, the UI said UI President Bruce Harreld visited with ISU President Wendy Wintersteen and University of Northern Iowa President Mark Nook and said “each committed to discussing and adopting a uniform safety protocol prior to next season.”

Bush said he has spoken with Barta and Harreld, who “have assured [Bush] that they will do everything in their power to help protect our band in the future during trips of this nature.” The two also support efforts to better protect visiting bands at Kinnick Stadium, Bush wrote.

“To be clear, I take the safety of the Hawkeye Marching Band more serious than anything,” Bush said. “I strive to protect these student musicians as I would my own family.”

Read Bush’s full statement below.

Bush's full statement