UVa Apologizes to WVU for Pep Band

UVa’s beleaguered pep band has found themselves in hot water after a performance at Saturday’s Cavs vs. West Virginia University’s Mountaineers game that portrayed UVa’s opponents as hillbillies. Their halftime show was a spoof of the TV show “The Bachelor,” presented to the theme song of the “Beverly Hillbillies,” with an overall-wearing woman representing WVU in the faux competition. The spectacle resulted in hundreds of complaints, prompting an apology by UVa officials; a statement from UVa president John Casteen is expented on Tuesday. The Virginian-Pilot has the story.

24 thoughts on “UVa Apologizes to WVU for Pep Band”

  1. As usual the Pep Band will probably suffer the consequences of what is actually the fault of the folks who are to be reviewing the skits. The shows are written and even practiced before being performed but somehow no one who oversees them finds the jokes offensive until someone from the other schools complain. That’s when, suddenly, the Pep Band needs tighter controls. Learn to take a joke. Better tackles, blocks and a lot more points by West Virginia might have quieted the whole thing. Winners generally don’t whine as much.

  2. Sorry, but it was a really stupid thing to do. The best part of most of these types of jokes is that the folks making them have no idea what they’re talking about. They’ve definitely never visited WVU (Morgantown being Little Pennsylvania) or anywhere else in West Virginia. It’s also becoming quite clear that huge segments of UVA’s population have absolutely no taste. What’s next, a Holocaust spoof for grad party?

  3. I believe that a thorough investigation will reveal that the pep band is now being led by former mascot, Ernest P. Worrell (http://www.ernestfanclub.com/).

    Shortly after Ernest became mascot of the pep band, the Athletic Department decided that maybe the school didn’t need a pep band anymore. The whole team- including it’s charismatic leader, lost it’s pep and figured that jeepers, they were done for.

    But Ernest wouldn’t let everyone stay down in the dumps for too long! He had a plan! Hijinks ensue.

    Ultimately, Ernest will save the pep band, prove how important school spirit is *and* teach us all some very important lessons about friendship and always trying your hardest without giving up.


  4. I don’t quite understand. Are you extrapolating from the pep band to "huge segments of UVA’s population" or do you have other evidence of the absence of taste?

  5. Mostly just anyone who thinks the raggedy pep band is entertaining, etc. Also, acknowledging that it’s still up for debate how ‘bad’ it was, the blackface party. It happened only a couple of months ago, leading to national coverage. I’m sure you remember, though. I’m just highlighting a trend of terrible taste on the part of various groups of students. Not *all* UVA students. I’d be needlessly offending a lot of wonderful people (friends and relatives included) if I were slamming all UVA students. Sorry if my speech was a bit broad. :)

  6. I just wanted to try to correct any notion that the pep band has wide-spread support. Though circumstance and fate have conspired to take me from the bosom of the university, it hasn’t been long since I knew for fact that the pep band was generally seen, for better or for worse, as an almost irrelevant embarrassment.

  7. Hummm, maybe the reason why these nicer bowls are not taking us is because of our pep band. I am sure the Gator or Peach wouldn’t have like having them offending the opponents’ home states in their half time shows. The pep band always trip me out in that they are NEVER shown on the national telecast. Yet we are shown the opposing marching bands. Are they happy that no one cares except themselves? It reminds me of the a person who only laughs at their own jokes.

  8. it hasn’t been long since I knew for fact that the pep band was generally seen, for better or for worse, as an almost irrelevant embarrassment.

    Now I believe you are the one making rather broad statements. While I couldn;t possibly give an accurate number of say, 44% or 53%, I do believe that the pro/con percentages are much closer to 50/50 or 60/40 than you would make it out to be. Your personal clique might wish them away but other groups are strong supporters. I agree that the band probably does not have "wide-spread support" but neither are they "generally seen …. as an embarrassment".

  9. I knew there was a mistake in the first URL… Ernest doesn’t have any fans!

    Ernest used to be the Atlanta Braves mascot. As soon as they dropped him, the Braves went on their long successful run… If dropping Ernest helped the Braves than it can certainly help the UVA Pep Band.

  10. Not everyone thinks we should say we are sorry. I saw several WVU fans wearing overalls and pigtails. WVU booed the pep band on friday night, one WVU fan was overheard to say, "hell they are not even a real band!". To which I asked if the sparkley white shimmering feathers on white pith helmets in fact made WVU a real band. No answer was given.

    The WVU fans had many signs that were negative to Virginia. Somehow I just found it all very humorous. The progress had the following:.

    "But John P. Ackerly III, the rector of UVa, defended the scramble band, which is known for mocking UVa’s opponents.

    "The Pep Band was not offensive," said Ackerly, who attended the Saturday game in which UVa beat West Virginia University, 48-22. "Any insult to West Virginia was delivered gloriously by our football team, not our lampooning pep band."

    The halftime show was built around a skit based on the hit television show "The Bachelor." Two female band members – one purported to be from West Virginia University, the other from UVa – competed for the affections of a male band member.

    The "WVU" competitor wore pigtails and overalls, performed a square dance and expressed her dream of living in Beverly Hills – a "Beverly Hillbillies" reference. West Virginia fans, who occupied more than half of Charlotte, N.C.’s Ericsson Stadium’s 72,000 seats, booed throughout the performance.

    The show’s script was approved by both UVa’s Athletic Department and bowl personnel, Wood said. Craig Littlepage, UVa’s athletic director, has been in contact with pep band leaders, she added.

    Ackerly also criticized Wise, whose office received "numerous" phone calls and e-mails from offended West Virginia residents, according to his letter.

    "I would think the governor of West Virginia would have more important matters of state on his agenda, not the University of Virginia’s spoofing Pep Band," Ackerly said.

    "It seems to me that WVU invites the use of the term ‘hillbilly’ when its own mascot is a ‘mountaineer’ – unshaven, clad in buckskins and a coonskin hat, chewing tobacco and toting a musket," he added"

  11. yes like all those years the pep band played to a team that was an "Irrelevant embrassment". The pep band was the only reason many people use to come.

  12. You can’t complain about the pep band’s actions. That might offend them. And its an unwritten rule in american society that we’re not allowed to do or say anything that might offend anyone at any time for any reason.

    However, it is perfectly acceptable to tackle a QB and break his femur. Go for it.

  13. I think the most important bit of info regarding this whole thing is missing from the summary: The skit was reviewed and approved beforehand by both the UVA athletic department and, more importantly, the bowl authorities. And as far as I can tell, the pep band didn’t diverge from their planned skit, so I would place the blame not so much on the band as on the bowl authorities who are now acting like it’s some travesty and ignoring that they gave the whole thing the go-ahead.

  14. I don’t even know the feelings of my personal clique on the pep band (my friends tend to be less concerned about UVA athletics than they might be). However, I’d be willing to bet money that these days, a strong majority, say something like 75-80%, of student football game attendees feel that the pep band is an embarrassment at worst and irrelevant at best. I say that, again, not from talking to my friends, but from being at the football and basketball games and hearing the general resentment.

    I don’t know that the same strong majority supports a full marching band, and I am sure that the alumni, who are not there in person, feel quite differently.

  15. I found out about this when it appeared in yesterday’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution (affectionately known as the Atlanta Urinal-Constipation.)

    West Virginia has always been the butt of inbred redneck jokes, and it always will be, and WVU had better get used to it. Just as Florida has gotten used to retired geezer jokes, New York has gotten used to being known for rude people and dirt, and Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee have all gotten used to "Bubba" jokes, these people need to lighten up, and get over it.

    As for the Pep Band, which I heartily support as I always have — well, have you ever heard the old adage that there’s no such thing as bad publicity as long as they spell your name right? Apparently someone helped the WVa people learn to spell UVa, and they now have the kind of national publicity you just can’t buy at any price.

    And WVa looks stupider than ever, to more people than ever.

    *sigh* it all works out, in the end.


  16. Actually, I seriously doubt the Pep Band enters into the bowl invitation equation in any way. Three things matter to the bowls: a team’s record, a team’s fan base (including travelling history, relative wealth, and alumni living near the bowl location), and a team’s appeal to TV viewership.

    I agree with your assessment that the band members are ignorant of how bad they truly have become. Their numbers have shrunk, and unless you’re sitting right next to them you just can’t hear them at a football game. They typically are drown out by the opposing team’s band, which is pathetic. I like the idea of the Pep Band, but it just isn’t working any longer.

    I’d be totally in favor of scrapping the Pep Band and establishing a real band. People say that would be too much of a burden on the members to have to practice, etc., but that’s BS. Practice isn’t too hard on football or basketball players.

  17. I agree with your thought about how a bowl team is determine. However, I was told that the pep band came to be because of UVa’s lousy football teams over the years. UVa is a fairly decent team heck they are going to complete for the ACC next year but the band has to GO! The band is just not needed anymore.

    PSST Pep Band, I think the Bengals could use some half time entainment.

  18. Two interesting columns in the Progress in the past few days – one from <A HREF="http://www.dailyprogress.com/news/columns/MGBLO0QHKAD.html">Bob Gibson</A>, and one from <A HREF="http://www.dailyprogress.com/news/sports/MGB62U9WOAD.html">Jerry Ratcliff</A>.

    Ratcliff makes a pretty good point: "If there was ever a reason to put in a music department and put a dynamic, entertaining marching band on the field that would energize the crowd and make the university proud, the time has come." Now all I guess UVA needs is the funding to make it happen. Easier said than done.

  19. In an era of cutbacks someone would have to put up 5 million endowment to fund a "real" band. If you’ve got 5 million to give to the university I will bet that it will end up somewhere else, like the new arena.

  20. Not if it’s earmarked for that specific purpose, as a great majority of endowments are. Perhaps this would be the perfect thing for a certain exceedingly wealthy local musical group to endow. Anybody know of anybody fitting that description around these here parts?

  21. Ratcliff makes his supposed "point" in typical fashion: with the worst possible syntax and at least one botched cliche-phrase per paragraph ("if there was ever a reason…the time has come"). I’ll bet he was a great read in the days before SpellCheck.

    Two replies to Jerry’s Big Idea:

    Uva _has_ a music department. They study music theory. They perform classical stuff. They write their own. But true – touche, touche – they don’t have a program for Playing the Star Wars Theme To Uninterested Alumni While Sort Of Dancng In Unison. Let’s get on that right away.


    Who wants another marching band? They’re boring, and they’d never be great, a la Grambling, or even better than JMU. I’ll take having a good team over a good band any day.

    Thank God Ackerly had the nuts to say what he said. I read Casteen’s speech. It was the speech of a politician par excellence – that is, a craven, bootlicking ode to Unoffensiveness. Ugh.

    In sum: WVU invites ridicule, UVA should never apologise for something two dozen half-witty students carry off with prior approval, and Ratcliff couldn’t write his way out of a wet paper bag.

  22. Ratcliff couldn’t write his way out of a wet paper bag.

    …speaking of cliches…

    Personally, my beef with the Pep Band isn’t that they tell really bad jokes. My beef is that, quite simply, they suck (when, that is, you can actually hear them over the visiting team’s band). It sounds like they rarely even bother to practice, which is inexcusable. Perhaps the band members get a kick out of being the “anti-band” or something, but they’ve become nothing more than a ridiculous parody of what they think they wished they had been be “back in the good-old days of the Pep Band.”

    Fortunately, you don’t have to choose between having a good team or a good band. It’s quite possible to have both (just ask USC). It would take an addition to the fine music department that currently exists (the one that has an incredible jazz program in addition to the classical one you mention), and it would take some money, but there would be nothing standing in the way of a new Virginia band being among the best in the country. Cetainly, the resources and talent are available. The only thing lacking is the motivation. However, to suggest that creating a good band would somehow detract from the football program is simply wrong.

    The purpose of a college band at sporting events is to add to the atmosphere, incite the home crowd, and entertain. The Pep Band hasn’t really been able to accomplish any of those objectives for quite some time. They’ve become entirely irrelevant, which I suggest is worse than just sounding really, really bad.

    The concept of a “scramble band” is fine. The lack of fancy uniforms with feathers in their hats is fine, too. None of those things matter…until they get out there and can’t play a song without half the band being out of key. When that happens, the little things become big ones.

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