Kansas State agrees to sanctions after band's halftime performance

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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

If you play around with the halftime show, you're going to pay.

In the wake of its marching band's controversial halftime show last weekend, Kansas State has agreed to sanctions that include a self-imposed $5,000 fine paid to the Big 12, a single-game suspension of its band director and mandatory approval of all halftime shows by university officials moving forward.

Kansas State had been notified by the Big 12 of potential violations of the conference's sportsmanship and ethical conduct policies, prompting the sanctions.

"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," university president Kirk Schulz said Tuesday in a statement. "We look forward to our upcoming athletic contests with the expectation of sportsmanlike conduct from the entire K-State family."

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby publicly reprimanded band director Frank Tracz for the inappropriate use of a member institution logo.

"The actions of the marching band depicting the disintegration of a member institution's mascot was inconsistent with the principles and expectations of the Big 12 Sportsmanship and Ethical Conduct Policy," Bowlsby said Tuesday in a statement. "I appreciate the prompt actions of K-State President Kirk Schulz and Athletics Director John Currie in addressing this matter and accept the University's self-imposed penalties."

The theme of Kansas State's halftime show against South Dakota on Saturday was "space," and it involved scenes from Star Trek and Star Wars. During one formation, the Kansas State band formed the rival Kansas Jayhawks 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.

"Our response has nothing to do with any perverted social media," Currie said Tuesday. "Our response is solely the fact we portrayed the disintegration of the Jayhawks by the Starship Enterprise."

Actor William Shatner -- who appeared on the original Star Trek series and thus could be called an expert on the Starship Enterprise -- weighed in Tuesday on Twitter.

Tracz said Sunday that "there was absolutely no intent to display anything other than the Enterprise and the Jayhawk in battle." He apologized for the "misinterpretation" and said the band meant "absolutely no disrespect or malice toward the University of Kansas."

The school also said its administration formally apologized to the chancellor and athletic director at Kansas. However, Currie said he does not believe the University of Kansas or its band was ever in contact with the Big 12.

"Frankly, bands have been poking fun at each other for hundreds of years. I can remember growing up and hearing different fight songs that criticize rivals and all that stuff," Currie said. "The reality of it is that as things have evolved over the years, things get amplified."

Currie said the fact that Kansas State was playing South Dakota, rather than Kansas, made the use of the Jayhawk mascot as a central part of the show an exercise in poor taste.

"It would have been different if it was a coyote out there or something like that," he said. "I understand the historical joshing that goes back and forth, but Saturday was about K-State and all the stuff going on."

Tracz will serve his one-game suspension when Kansas State plays Kansas on Nov. 28.

Kansas State came under scrutiny last season when fans rushed the court after a victory over the Jayhawks in men's basketball, with some physically jostling players. The school responded this fall by asking students picking up football tickets to sign a sportsmanship code of conduct.

"This is very significant as it relates to the new sportsmanship rules," Currie said. "I believe that the Big 12 Conference and our university and our president are trying to be leaders in sportsmanship. That is a significant aspect of this."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.