Hawkeye Marching Band madness: After Harreld’s Cy-Hawk remarks, universities move forward

Following UI President Bruce Harreld’s remarks on questioning the future of the Cy-Hawk game in a DI interview, ISU officials and the Iowa governor chimed in to commit to keeping the rivalry series alive.


DI Staff

From left: Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds Iowa State University President Wendy Wintersteen.

Rivalry is at the forefront of the University of Iowa and Iowa State University relationship this week as the institutions’ leaders shared split views on the future of the state’s long running annual Cy-Hawk game.     

After UI 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 by Cyclones fans, 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 on the historic matchup between the two largest state Board of Regents universities. “… After all — before, during, and after the game — we’re all Iowans.”

Wintersteen’s remarks follow Harreld’s interview in which he said he expected the involved parties could “work through this” and collaborate to improve safety. He told the DI the universities need to take measures to make games safer, whether the events are held at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames or Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, adding that he invited University of Northern Iowa President Mark Nook to participate in the conversations.

“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 in a regularly scheduled sit-down interview.

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

News of the comments first reported in the DI have widely circulated state and national media, landing headlines in outlets such as the Des Moines Register and The Washington Post as university officials debate the best course of action to ensure the safety of fans, students, and staff at university sporting events while enjoying the in-state rivalry match.

Hawkeye Marching Band members went public with physical-harassment allegations after local-media reports on Sept. 19 that the UI was no longer investigating the reports of Cy-Hawk game incidents. The UI on Sept. 20 said officials were continuing the investigation and shared additional resources with affected students. 

That came just days after Iowa Athletic Director Gary Barta on Sept. 16 shared a statement saying that UI Athletics “has been made aware of inappropriate actions made toward student members and staff of the Hawkeye Marching Band while attending the Iowa State football game Sept. 14. We have contacted Iowa State Athletics administration and are working to gather additional information…” The statement offered no specific details on the actions.

ISU Athletic Director Jamie Pollard on Tuesday said ISU confirmed earlier in the day five alleged incidents that occurred at the game.

  • 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 the 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 the 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

Pollard said there needs to be a collective approach to ensuring such conduct, which he described as “shameful” and “inexcusable,” does not occur. 

“… 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.”

Matt Belinson/Iowa State Daily
ISU Athletic Director Jamie Pollard, ISU President Wendy Wintersteen, and ISU Police Chief Wayne Newton address the media about Hawkeye Marching Band allegations of harassment.

Pollard points fingers toward UI band

While Pollard condemned the alleged fan misconduct, he also pinned a portion of the blame for the reported incidents on the UI band members. 

Pollard said an altercation may have taken place when the Hawkeye Marching Band took the wrong exit out of Jack Trice toward its buses and into a crowded area.

“The Iowa marching band marched in formation playing their instruments into the back of that crowd and forced their way through those people,” he said.

ISU Police Chief Michael Newton said officials examined security footage of the band’s stadium exit and saw nothing happen during that time. 

“The band continues to move during that time,” he said. “They continue forward. There’s never a stop.”

RELATED: Marching Band allegations from Cy-Hawk game emerge

Specific details of the alleged Cy-Hawk game incidents emerged after UI band members went public with their allegations of harassment following reports of the UI’s closure of the investigation, which some band members took issue with.

“…This is on whoever up the ladder doesn’t care enough about the students that go to this University,” band member Corey Knopp wrote on Facebook. “I wonder if this had happened to the football team if athletics would still be investigating.”

Harreld in his Monday DI interview apologized for the communication regarding the UI’s handling of the allegations and of the perception to some people that the UI shut the investigation down abruptly.

“… We’re not washing our hands of this — this is a really bad situation,” Harreld said. “Something really bad happened in Ames.”

Katina Zentz
UI President Bruce Harreld answers a question in the Adler Journalism Building on Monday, Sept. 23, 2019.

In response to a reporter’s question about that quote, Pollard said ISU investigated complaints to the fullest extent and added that he felt the statement spread a different narrative. 

“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. “But that’s not the perception that’s being perpetuated. It’s this sense that something worse happened.”

Newton said the UI provided four officers as security personnel for the Hawkeye Marching Band and those officials reported no incidents to ISU. He and Pollard encouraged people with more information to come forward with evidence or complaints.

“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 unclear status of the investigation

Did the UI conduct an investigation, much less open or close an investigation, into the marching band allegations? The answer seems to depend on which university official responds to the question.

The UI on Sept. 20 in its statement addressing the band members’ allegations said, “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. …We are continuing our investigation to ensure all of our students have the ability to share their experiences with the appropriate authorities.”

RELATED: Barta speaks on alleged incident regarding Hawkeye Marching Band

But Barta in a Tuesday news conference said “we didn’t really conduct an investigation.”

“… What we’ve been doing from day one and will continue to do is when our students brought forward concerns, we’re listening to them, we’re meeting with them, we’re providing them options,” he said.

Barta also said he “actually didn’t say” the investigation closed. 

“What I said was at this point, it’s still difficult to ascertain all the details,” he said. “In the meantime, we are going to start looking at future games. But I never said that there was an investigation that was closed.”

Harreld on Monday told the DI he wasn’t sure “why we closed and we why relaunched,” because from his perspective, the UI didn’t close the investigation. 

“I think we finished the phase where we had interviewed all the people that were directly impacted negatively by their experience in Ames,” Harreld said. “And I think at that point we say, ‘Well, we had probably talked to everybody, and I guess we put out an announcement so we’ve closed that.’ ”

The majority of fans who attend the game enjoy it responsibly, Barta said.

“But we do have to make sure that the people who participate in the game are safe, and we’re going to do that,” he said. “I’m confident we can. Once we do that, I know [Harreld] will be comfortable continuing the game. But I know he meant what he said because he’s upset and frustrated.”

State support for Cy-Hawk series success

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds weighed in on the matter in a Tuesday news conference.

Regarding the idea of ending the Cy-Hawk game, Reynolds said, “I just really don’t believe that that’s an option.” 

I am very confident that the two universities will be able to sit down at the table and work through a process that allows this tradition to carry on in a manner that protects those that are attending.

— Gov. Kim Reynolds

When asked her opinion about ISU’s response to the matter, Reynolds said that questions of that nature should be directed to the regents or the universities.

Reynolds, an ISU alum, said she could not attend this year’s game because of a family wedding.

“I am very confident that the two universities will be able to sit down at the table and work through a process that allows this tradition to carry on in a manner that protects those that are attending,” Reynolds said in her press conference. “I know they’ll be able to sit down and work through that, and we’ll be able to see this great rivalry continue moving forward.”

RELATED: Kim Reynolds says she’s ‘confident’ Iowa’s universities will find Cy-Hawk game solution

The three regent 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.

While Iowa’s public universities begin to examine the issue, Harreld said he thinks there’s a fan issue in the country. 

“I think this is a dialogue we should all be having, which is what is the appropriate security and safety issues. There’s a big discussion about whether we should allow alcohol in our stadiums,” he said, pointing to the possibility of tailgating fueling reported aggression on Sept. 14.

Wintersteen on Tuesday voiced support for taking steps to examine safety protocol with the other regent universities.

“… 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,” Wintersteen said.

Shivansh Ahuja
Signs are held by spectators during ESPN College GameDay before the annual Cy-Hawk football game between Iowa and Iowa State in Ames on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019. This was GameDay’s first visit to Ames.

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.”