University of Iowa to probe band members’ claims of verbal abuse, sexual harassment by Iowa State fans

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The University of Iowa has reopened an investigation into allegations by members of the school’s marching band that they were verbally abused and physically assaulted during last weekend’s game against rival Iowa State University.

Members of the Hawkeye Marching Band allege that they were subjected to racial slurs and other verbal abuse, and sexual harassment before, during and after the game. Two band members told the Cedar Rapids Gazette that a third band member, a woman was hospitalized with fractured ribs.


Members of the Hawkeye Marching Band play before a game between Iowa and Rutgers earlier this season. (Photo by Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Administrators at the two schools announced earlier in the week that they had looked into the allegations, but they didn’t say whether anyone would face punishment. Iowa’s athletic director, Gary Barta, and his Iowa State counterpart, Jamie Pollard, released a joint statement saying members of both schools’ bands had been subjected to “rude, vulgar, and in some cases violent” conduct at football games in recent years, and urging fans to stop the behavior.

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In response, 21-year-old Corey Knopp, who plays tenor sax for the Iowa Marching Band, posted his account of the abuse following the game, which Iowa won 18-17.

“People were physically assaulted,” Knopp said. “We expect to get booed and cussed at. But never for violence to take place…Put yourself in our shoes. Kids. Marching in formation back to our busses after a long day. Getting shoved and having beer cans shaken and sprayed at our feet. Getting slapped because of the words on our uniform (IOWA). Getting pushed so hard that someone’s (not going to name this person) ribs are broken. That is completely unacceptable.”

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Knopp also detailed to the Gazette how an Iowa State fan shoved him as they were marching back to the team buses.

“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, ‘F–k you.’”

Nathan Topping, a 19-year-old trumpet player, told the Gazette a full beer bottle was thrown at him, causing what he described as a “nasty bruise.”

“It was the fans,” said Paige Pearson, 20, who plays trumpet in the Iowa band. “The Iowa State band has been nothing but kind. They’ve reached out to us and said sorry this happened. It was not even the students, but adult fans.”

University of Iowa spokeswoman Jeneane Beck said Friday that the social media posts made it clear that the university hadn’t adequately conveyed to its students what it had done to address the band members’ concerns, the Gazette reported.

“Student safety is our number one priority and we are committed to ensuring a safe experience on game day for our students,” Beck said. “Additionally we are continuing our investigation to ensure all of our students have the ability to share their experiences with the appropriate authorities.”

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Iowa officials said Friday in a message to band members that Barta and Pollard “have been actively engaged in the process and have publicly pledged to ensure better protections for students moving forward.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 



By David Aaro

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