By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – The controversy over how members of the Iowa Marching Band were treated in Ames on Sept. 14, and the response to it by both the University of Iowa and Iowa State, doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon.
Iowa Athletic Director Gary Barta met with the media following Kirk Ferentz’s weekly press conference on Tuesday in order to provide more details about what Barta described as an ongoing investigation.
Members of the Iowa Marching Band say they were assaulted as they marched from Jack Trice Stadium in the moments after Iowa’s 18-17 victory over Iowa State on Sept. 14th in Ames.
Some of the band members went public with their complaints after it was announced last week that the initial investigation was over and that both schools were moving on. The band members were upset because they felt that the situation wasn’t being taken seriously enough by both schools.
However, Barta said Tuesday that he never said the initial investigation was over.
“What I said was at this point, it’s still difficult to ascertain all the details, in the meantime we are going to start looking at future games,” Barta said. “But I never said that there was an investigation that was closed.”
Barta was then reminded by a reporter on Tuesday that his joint statement with Iowa State Athletic Director Jamie Pollard said that “the details are difficult to verify and we’ve elected to move forward.”
“Yeah, and as you know, that came through a third party,” Barta said. “I didn’t get a chance to speak with you directly, so it may be some interpretation got lost. But at no point did I say the investigation was closed. And it’s still not closed.”
“Every day we’re checking in with these students who have been wronged. They were wronged. We had students at that game that were mistreated. To this point, we’re still working with them. We’ve met with them. Our office of sexual misconduct response has met with them. They’ve been awarded the opportunity, or afforded the opportunity to meet with law enforcement. We’re still there to support them.”
Asked if he thinks the band members were a victim of a crime, Barta said:
“It’s hard for me to say. I believe that they were wronged. I believe that we’re going to continue to support them.
“At this point, there are still a lot of details that can’t be verified.”
Meanwhile, Iowa State officials also held a press conference on Tuesday to address the situation and Pollard said the physical contact that occurred after the game was started by the Iowa Marching Band exiting through the wrong tunnel against the advice of Iowa State officials.
Barta was asked Tuesday if that was his understanding of the situation.
“I’ve heard multiple descriptions of what happened,” Barta said. “I still don’t know exactly what happened. I know that we have one band member who required medical treatment. That’s what I know.
“I wasn’t there, and so, I’m not to judge how serious or significant it was. I’m there to support our students who say they were mistreated. I believe them, and we’re just trying to help them get through that.”
It has been reported that one band member suffered a broken rib from being pushed and that another was sexual assaulted.
UI President Bruce Harreld caused a stir on Monday when he told the Daily Iowan that he wasn’t convinced that the game should be played again unless steps were taken by both schools to assure that what happened in Ames wouldn’t happen again.
“I think you’ve heard both presidents have spoken and both presidents have talked about after the season in order for us to successfully have this game and successfully have the band in attendance, we have to make sure they’re safe,” Barta said. “That’s our number one priority.
“So at the presidents’ invitation and direction, we’ll get together and make sure that that can occur. And I’m confident that it can.”
Barta was asked on Tuesday to respond to Harreld's comments that the series could be discontinued, and what his thoughts were on the future of the series that has been played on an annual basis since 1977.
"I know he said it and I know he meant it," Barta said of Harreld. "And I know what he meant by it. And that is, he's concerned, and I'm concerned that the safety of the participants of the game has to be number one."
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said Tuesday ending the Iowa-Iowa State football rivalry is not an option.
“I have full confidence in the two universities sitting down and being able to figure this out,” she told reporters.
Pollard said the Iowa-Iowa State game is one of the greatest economic engines this state has. He also expressed concern over misinformation that is portraying Cyclones fans in a negative light.
"So we are doing a disservice to this state, to the University of Iowa and to Iowa State University, to allow misinformation to be perpetuated to bring us all down,” Pollard said.
Pollard said that Iowa State is 100-percent committed to the series going forward.
He also said Tuesday that he absolutely believes members of the Hawkeye Marching Band experienced “embarrassing” and “shameful” heckling and rudeness during the Sept. 14 game that took six hours to play due to two weather delays that lasted for nearly three hours.
“Why do I feel that way?” Pollard said. “Because I know it’s happened to our band multiple times in Iowa City."