Band conduct investigation continues

October 8, 2008 By John Lucas

An investigation into the conduct of members of the UW–Madison Marching Band continues, nearly one week after the group was suspended by director and music professor Mike Leckrone.

As of Wisconsin Week’s press time, the group’s status for Saturday’s home game against Penn State remained unresolved.

The group did not perform at the Ohio State game on Oct. 4, the first time in nearly 40 years that the band did not perform at a home football game.

The Oct. 3 suspension revolved around allegations that are consistent with behavior that resulted in the band being placed on probation in 2006. In particular, the new reports of alleged conduct included inappropriate alcohol-use, hazing and sexualized behavior.

At Leckrone’s request, the Offices of the Dean of Students opened an investigation led by Associate Dean of Students Kevin Helmkamp. The investigation is exploring possible violations of university code of conduct and the band code of conduct.

To have allowed the band to perform at the Ohio State game after receiving serious allegations of hazing could have been potentially damaging to the institution, according to Dean of Students Lori Berquam.

“I’m truly disappointed to have received these allegations, and I am assisting this investigation in any way that I can,” Leckrone says. “It is my expectation that the members of the band will cooperate and come forward with any and all relevant information.”

Personal conduct of marching band members has been a matter of concern for some years. In 2000, the university established a written code of conduct for the band, and Leckrone has taken action to discipline violators in the past.

In fall 2006, the band was put on probation by then-Chancellor John Wiley for sexual hazing and harassment. After Wiley’s decision, there was improvement for the remainder of the 2006 football season and the probation was lifted last year.

“It’s my belief that it’s a very small percentage of members (involved in conduct issues),” Leckrone says. “But there’s a sense of shared responsibility that I talk about with the band all the time, particularly since the last incident. If there’s a problem, they have to step forward and say, ‘That’s not what we’re about.’”