The following is an electronic letter that Kansas State University President Kirk Schulz issued to members of the K-State Marching Band on Tuesday, Sept. 8.
Sept. 8, 2015
Dear K-State Pride of Wildcat Land Members:
Let me offer my congratulations on receiving the Sudler Trophy as recognition for many years of sustained excellence as one of the best bands in the nation. I look forward to celebrating together as a Wildcat Family during Band Day on Sept. 19 as you are recognized for your hard work and dedication to excellence as national band champions.
All of you worked very hard to put on a spectacular show for our home football opener against the University of South Dakota. As a longtime band parent, I appreciate the technical requirements and practice time to do the live animation while performing. It is unfortunate that the band has been criticized on social media for a portion of the show which was taken completely out of context. As many of you know, I love social media; however, it is also an opportunity for people to post hurtful and uninformed comments. I appreciate your dedication to excellence and ask that you simply ignore these comments.
I also very much appreciate the continued leadership of Dr. Frank Tracz as our director of bands. Dr. Tracz brings a passion for the K-State Marching Band to everything he does — which is what makes him such an integral and meaningful part of the K-State experience. The Sudler Trophy honor truly stands on his shoulders.
The Big 12 Conference has a clear policy on sportsmanship, and our conference commissioner felt that the use of another university’s mascot was inappropriate and did not uphold the spirit of sportsmanship that we strive for in our conference. Because of this, I have put in place several self-imposed sanctions, including a $5,000 fine, a review of all band programs by members of K-State Athletics and the Office of Student Life, and a game-day suspension of the director of bands for our game on Nov. 28 against the University of Kansas.
Ultimately, as president, I am responsible for setting the tone for sportsmanship at K-State. As we continue to rise in national prominence we must be more mindful of how we speak of others, including our longtime rivals. In the future, my public speaking — and that of my fellow administrators — will be focused entirely around the successes we have at K-State and will not include comments or jokes about any other Big 12 schools.
I am sure that you have questions and concerns — and welcome your comments at any time. Please feel free to email me at email@example.com and I will be happy to answer any question. I also will meet with you this week after practice to answer any questions that you may have in person.
I ask each of you — as members of the Wildcat Family — to put these issues behind us and do what all of you do best: Showcasing the excellence and proud tradition that are part of the Wildcat Way.