Report: Iowa reopens band abuse investigation

The University of Iowa is reopening its investigation into allegations of "verbal, physical and sexual abuse" toward members of the Hawkeye Marching Band at the Iowa State game on Sept. 14, according to a report.

The allegations detailed in the report by the Cedar Rapids Gazette on Friday included accounts from band members who said they experienced verbal and physical sexual harassment and assault, as well as lasting bruises from objects that were thrown. Two band members quoted in the story said one woman was sent to the hospital with fractured ribs.

The news came just two days after athletic directors at both schools released a joint statement, saying their marching bands "have been the target of unacceptable behavior" during games at both schools in recent years, but neither school had ever given specifics.

Iowa athletic director Gary Barta was the first to publicize it, releasing a statement last Monday that "inappropriate actions" were made during the rivalry game.

On Wednesday, Barta and Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard acknowledged that "some of the conduct directed at the students in our respective marching bands recently has been rude, vulgar and in some cases violent."

Third-year band member Corey Knopp, 21, who plays tenor sax, told the Gazette he was among those assaulted.

"A fan shoved me out of his way as we were marching in formation back to the buses," Knopp told The Gazette. "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," Knopp told the paper. "A member of the band was cornered by a number of males and was assaulted. ... We expect to be booed and the usual rivalry-game antics. But never physically and sexually assaulted."

Nathan Topping, a 19-year-old trumpet player, told the Gazette he was injured by a flying, full beer bottle that left a "nasty bruise." Paige Pearson, a junior trumpet player, told the Gazette it wasn't the students but "adult fans."

University of Iowa spokeswoman Jeneane Beck on Saturday said it had become clear "we had not shared enough information with our students about the steps the university has taken to address the concerns" raised by band members.

"Student safety is our No. 1 priority and we are committed to ensuring a safe experience on game day for our students," Beck said.

Beck said deputy athletic director Barbara Burke had reached out to each student who was "identified as being impacted."

In addition, Beck said the university reached out to Hawkeye Marching Band members to provide a list of resources -- including a phone number for University of Iowa Police -- and to detail actions taken by the university over the past week.

On Wednesday, Barta and Jamie Pollard's joint statement said both athletic departments are "committed to doing whatever is necessary to improve the environment for visiting school marching bands in the future."

"A significant part of the solution is insisting our fans help address this issue by showing more respect to our visitors," the statement read. "We owe it to these hardworking performers to have a safe stage on which they can showcase their spirit and talent."