MANHATTAN – Kansas State University band director Frank Tracz appeared ready to discuss the halftime show that caused controversy at the Wildcats’ first football game of the season when he agreed to participate in a live chat online Monday morning.
But the media session ended with more questions than answers.
At the request of school administrators, Tracz backed out of the scheduled chat at the last minute without answering any questions on the website of the school’s student newspaper, the Collegian.
“I think it would be best at this time to delay this interview until we have a chance to meet and discuss this with the appropriate people,” Tracz wrote.
“I really appreciate the Collegian with providing me with this opportunity, and will certainly take them up on this Ask Me Live request on a future date and at a future time.”
Tracz told the Collegian that K-State athletic director John Currie and school president Kirk Schulz both advised him not to participate in the online chat, adding that a meeting about Saturday’s halftime performance will take place at 2 p.m. on Tuesday.
K-State’s band received national attention over the weekend when some argued that a “Star Trek”-themed halftime show matching formation went awry and instead resembled a sex act against a Kansas Jayhawk mascot.
Band members on the north part of the field formed a Jayhawk. On the south side of the field, other members formed what was described as the Starship Enterprise heading toward the Jayhawk’s mouth.
Two people ran from the sideline into the middle of the Jayhawk formation and appeared to unfurl a Jayhawk flag or banner. On the formation described as the Enterprise, five people ran from the sideline to unfurl a larger Powercat flag or banner.
Schulz and the K-State marching band later apologized on Twitter. Tracz apologized later on Facebook and explained the misrepresentation.
“There was absolutely no intent to display anything other than the Enterprise and the Jayhawk in battle,” Tracz wrote. “If I am guilty of anything it would be the inability to teach the drill in a manner that these young people could have succeeded.
“I do apologize for the misrepresentation and I assure you that I meant absolutely no disrespect.”
He attempted to explain the situation in greater detail Monday when he posted an opening comment five minutes before his scheduled live chat was set to start.
“I appreciate all the support that we’ve been getting from the K-State family,” Tracz wrote. “The marching band is a special group of young people to me and the staff. They are deserving of the Sudler Trophy and all the support you could give them.”
K-State won the Sudler Trophy this year. It is awarded, according to the John Philip Sousa Foundation website, to the “marching band which has demonstrated the highest of musical standards and innovative marching routines and ideas, and which has made important contributions to the advancement of the performance standards of college marching bands over a number of years.”
For the online chat with Tracz, several questions posed by commenters included: “Have you considered that maybe some students planned it?” and “How many times was this routine practiced?”
One commenter asked whether the band would perform the formation again, and another wondered why a routine with a Jayhawk was included in the game against South Dakota.
Shortly after the chat was scheduled to begin, Tracz announced that it would need to be rescheduled.