Kansas State University Announces Internal Sanctions For Band’s Halftime Performance

Photo of Kansas State University marching band's halftime formation on Saturday, September 5th. (Courtesy: KSN)
Photo of Kansas State University marching band's halftime formation on Saturday, September 5th. (Courtesy: KSN)

Manhattan, KS (KSN) – Kansas State University has agreed to sanctions from the Big 12 Conference over violations of its sportsmanship and ethical conduct policies over a halftime performance Saturday during K-State’s opener.

The potential violations occurred during the first home football against South Dakota with the band’s halftime depiction of the KU mascot, the Jayhawk.

The theme of the halftime show against South Dakota was “space,” and involved scenes from Star Trek and Star Wars. During one formation, the Kansas State formed the Kansas mascot and what was supposed to be the starship Enterprise crashing into it.

The spaceship wound up resembling male genitalia, which in turn set social media ablaze.

“At Saturday’s home football opener Kansas State University fell short of its obligation to conduct itself in a consistent manner with the principles of sportsmanship,” said President Kirk Schulz. “Good sportsmanship is part of the Wildcat way; we do not want to do anything that takes away from the tremendous efforts of our student athletes and the award-winning Pride of Wildcat Land marching band.”

After Saturday’s game, the administration formally apologized to the chancellor and athletic director at the University of Kansas, which was the mascot depicted by the band.

Frank Tracz issued a statement Sunday in which he said “there was absolutely no intent to display anything other than the Enterprise and the Jayhawk in battle.”

K-State students previously signed a sportsmanship pledge as a way to increase awareness of good sportsmanship. The sanctions proposed by President Schulz demonstrate the university’s commitment to provide additional leadership in this area:

• A self-imposed $5,000 fine to be paid to the Big 12 Conference for violation of the league sportsmanship policy.

• A single-game suspension for the university director of bands. The suspension will take place Nov. 28 at the game against the University of Kansas.

• Prior approval for the content of all band halftime shows by representatives from the Office of Student Life and the Athletic Department.

Graphic outlining the Kansas State University marching band's halftime formation. (Courtesy: Kansas State University marching band)
Graphic outlining the Kansas State University marching band’s halftime formation. (Courtesy: Kansas State University marching band)

Statement From Geralyn Tracz, wife Of Dr. Frank Tracz

As I watch my husband remain silent at the request of administration as his fate is decided, I feel I am under no such compulsion to do so. As Winston Churchill once said “The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.”

The truth of the current Internet firestorm my family is facing is that my husband and the K-State Marching Band have done NOTHING wrong.

The decisions being made today stem from a complaint of unsportsmanlike conduct filed by the University of Kansas with the Big 12 Commission. To avoid the possibility of more severe sanctions, K-State is deciding how to best “handle” the situation. This situation spiraled out of control when a perceived obscene formation from last Saturday’s halftime was tweeted out to the awaiting Internet mob! Since then, my husband has received emails stating that they are trying to get his name added to the list of sexual predators as well as threats if he shows his face in Lawrence. This, all from the image of a Jayhawk fighting the Starship Enterprise in what I hope people understand was a fictional battle in space.

My husband has also received hundreds of emails and tweets of support from around the country. I have watched him try and fail to control his emotions while reading all of the heartfelt words telling him the difference he has made in their lives and expressing gratitude. He has dedicated his life to education and teaching students how to be the best they can be. Not just on the field or in the classroom, but in life. The K-State Band under his leadership has garnered a nationwide reputation of excellence on and off the field. Wherever they have traveled, bowl games to concerts, officials have written letters to our athletics and admin to say how impressed they were with our student’s respectful behavior and how well they represented K-State. To think he would put something inappropriate in a halftime performance is beyond reason.

While the Big 12 and administrators at both universities spend time debating this issue, I am struck by the absolute absurdity in the context of college football. This is a sport driven by rivalry, passionate fans, and TV revenue. Broadcasts of national rivals make for big ratings and big money. TV and sports shows thrive on it. We watch our schools mascot taunt the opposing mascot and fans. We buy T-shirts with every manner of printed slander against the opposing team. Other bands have depicted the demise of the rival school’s flag and K-State itself had Willie the Wildcat pummel someone dressed as a fan of the other team at every pre-game to the delight of the crowd until it caused physical harm and was prohibited. I have also watched time and time again as athletes break the law and never even miss a practice. And yet – here we are. The reputation of a man and this wonderful organization, who have done nothing but given their time and devotion to the university they love, will be forever tarnished by the image of a jayhawk on the football field. And a CUTE image at that!

I am appealing to all marching band members, high school and college, as well as football fans and community leaders, to express your support IN A RESPECTFUL WAY to administrators at Kansas State and University of Kansas, as well as the Big 12 commissioner. At some point, common sense has to rule and say enough is enough. The Internet can cause so much damage but it can also be a powerful tool. Time to use it for good. (I would have a link to all involved but I’m sure you Internet savvy people can find the info.) Thank you to everyone for your wonderful support and your words of encouragement to our entire family.

Geralyn Tracz – proud wife of Dr. Frank Tracz

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