Iowa State commits to keeping Cy-Hawk series alive after UI president questions its future

ISU’s remarks come after UI President Bruce Harreld told the DI on Monday that he wanted to take additional safety measures before continuing the rivalry series.


Katina Zentz/Wyatt Dlouhy

Left: UI President Bruce Harreld speaks to the DI on Sept. 23 in the Adler Journalism Building. Right: ISU President Wendy Wintersteen gives a presentation to the state Board of Regents during a meeting at the Iowa State Alumni Center in Ames on June 6.

Marissa Payne, Editor-in-Chief

After University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld questioned the future of the annual Cy-Hawk game in a sit-down interview on Monday with The Daily Iowan and called for improved safety protocols in light of Hawkeye Marching Band members’ allegations of physical harassment, Iowa State University officials on Tuesday committed to continuing the rivalry series.

“We can’t let the action of a few individuals bring an end to something that is so positive to our state,” ISU President Wendy Wintersteen said in a Tuesday press conference of the matchup between the two largest state Board of Regents universities. “… After all — before, during, and after the game — we’re all Iowans.”

RELATED: Safety measures must improve before Iowa plays another Cy-Hawk game, UI president says

Wintersteen’s remarks follow Harreld’s interview in which he said he expected the involved parties could work through the issues and collaborate to improve safety — emphasizing that the universities need to take measures to make the game safer before the UI participates again.

“I’m not convinced at all that we should play this game again — here or there or anywhere — unless we can protect our fans, our band, and of course our athletes,” Harreld told the DI.

Hawkeye Marching Band members alleged suffering physical harassment, ranging from broken ribs and being bruised by a beer can at the Cy-Hawk game at Jack Trice Stadium.

Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta on Sept. 16 announced the UI opened an investigation into the alleged incidents, and by Sept. 19 the UI shut down the investigation.

Band members went public with physical-harassment allegations after the Sept. 19 announcement, and the UI reopened the investigation the following day.

“… We’re not washing our hands of this — this is a really bad situation,” Harreld said of the perception to some people that the UI shut the investigation down abruptly. “Something really bad happened in Ames.”

RELATED: Marching Band allegations from Cy-Hawk game emerge

ISU Athletics Director Jamie Pollard said there needs to be a collective approach to ensuring such conduct does not occur.

“… It’s shameful. It’s inexcusable. And we all have to do better,” he said. “That means our fans need to do a better job of policing our fans, but so do Iowa fans.”

Pollard said there were five alleged incidents that ISU confirmed again Tuesday morning that the UI initially shared Sept. 18:

  • A teaching assistant for the marching band had beer thrown on them
  • Something was thrown at the football team’s bus during or shortly after the game that cracked windshield of the bus while no players or coaches were present
  • The Hawkeye band director and ISU facilities director had a verbal altercation on the field as the UI band began to exit the stadium
  • Following the game, a Hawkeye band member tried to enter the football complex through ISU locker-room entrance and was denied entrance, resulting in a confrontation between the band member and security personnel
  • A marching-band member suffered broken ribs while carrying a ladder as the result of a band member being shoved and falling on the ladder while the band member was exiting the field

“To say, ‘Something really bad happened in Ames,’ I’m led to believe then that we must be talking about the rudeness and the vulgarity and the five incidents,” Pollard said in response to a reporter’s question about Harreld’s quote. “But that’s not the perception that’s being perpetuated. It’s this sense that something worse happened.”

ISU Police Chief Michael Newton said the UI provided four officers as security personnel for the Hawkeye Marching Band and those officials reported no incidents to ISU.

“We can’t investigate from media reports,” Newton said. “We can’t investigate from social media reports… Until somebody comes forward, there is nothing we can do in an investigation at this point.”

The three state Board of Regents university leaders have committed to addressing safety issues, Harreld said Monday. He said such safety protocols should address the size of the universities’ security forces, the location of band-bus parking, and where to have visiting bands sit in the stands.

Wintersteen voiced support for taking such steps on Tuesday.

“It’s a few of our fans that have decided to behave appropriately, and so we’re going to work with President Harreld and [University of Northern Iowa] President [Mark] Nook to think about how we can change that,” Wintersteen said. “… It’s a great game for Iowans to enjoy, and so I think that’s where we need to keep the focus — that we’re going to keep the Cy-Hawk series going and continue to have that opportunity for this game to continue to be played.”

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Fans highly anticipate the Hawkeye-Cyclone faceoff each year, but Pollard noted the added attention to the game with the ESPN College GameDay in Ames.

“The Cy-Hawk game is one of the greatest economic engines this state has,” Pollard said. “All the commerce that’s rapped into that game … is a tremendous asset. The state of Iowa had a national platform with College GameDay. That was an incredible branding opportunity for this state.”

So, should fans fret over the end of the Cy-Hawk game? Pollard dismissed Harreld’s suggestion that the rivalry-series battle could soon meet its end.

“Iowa State University is 100 percent committed to this series going forward,” Pollard said, “and Gary Barta has shared with me that he is 100 percent committed to this series going forward.”