Monday, October 14, 2013

Inmates running the asylum

Thus it continues.

The news hit today that University of Tennessee Pride of the Southland Marching Band director Gary Sousa has been placed on administrative leave for insubordination, inability to work with others and misrepresentation of facts.

My, oh my.

I told you my take on a lot of things in this post. I won't repeat them.

Truth be told, I could see this coming. It's the way Tennessee rolls in UT (BS).

I am not privy to everything regarding Sousa's job performance or his interaction with university personnel.

I do know that UT isn't the military and "insubordination" is an interesting term for employees at a land-grant university.

Sources who know tell me that Chancellor Jimmy Cheek is a few cards short of a full deck. Maybe so. UTK hasn't had chancellors with a clue since Jack Reese and Bill Snyder.

Tom Mattingly says it better than I, and, as usual, with his good-hearted fairness and sportsmanship.

Whatever Cheek's case, I say that athletic director Dave Hart and president Joe DiPietro are ultimately responsible. The buck stops there, or at least it did in Harry Truman's day.

"The inmates are running the asylum (at UT)," says a super source.

Tom has a different take:

"Never thought it would happen, but the band’s performance the last few days has done the impossible: make the campus administration look almost reasonable. That’s a tall order, but they’ve come close."

His are points to ponder.

My $1.98 take is that Tennessee has become a national joke and I'm not just talking about the gridiron. (In fact, Butch Jones is a bright spot in a bleak cesspool.)

Academic rank, prestige and prowess have dipped. But, hey, at least we don't top the Playboy party school list anymore.

The jury is still out on Sousa's supposed sins, but this is just sickening.

Strike up the band and play "Send In the Clowns."

Don't bother. They're here.

UPDATE Tuesday, Oct. 15, 11 a.m.: Here is Tuesday's story from the Knoxville News Sentinel (paywall). According to the story by Kristi L. Nelson, band alums are split on Sousa.

Looks like Provost Susan Martin, whom Tony Basilio on his AM talk show just called "the biggest troublemaker on campus," had to mop up for the Chancellor.

Basilio says he doesn't want to see stories like this in the press and isn't taking sides.

Whatever the case, the kids are the losers.

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Blogger Brent Williams said...

I have to mostly agree with you. As a longtime band geek, I can tell you that the majority of local band directors don't really care for Sousa and his approach to local high schools...but they won't state that publicly, for fear of the backlash. The large majority of ex-pat Pride members that I know are also very disapproving of the band's direction, and that has nothing to do with performance on game's more to do with the direction of the program in general.

The real bottom line is the bottom line. The band is big, powerful, visible and could be a marketing machine of it's own accord...if it was properly led. Telling your kids to go spread half-truths isn't leadership, it gerrymandering.

Attacking the hand that feeds you, deservedly so or not, will get you smacked down...and quickly, every time it happens.

The real approach could have been for dialogue to happen about "privatizing" the band. There are plenty of rabid supporters out there that would gladly help out. Ohio State's band is entirely self-supported.

Yet Sousa took it upon himself to use his own "kids" as pawns, encouraging the use of Social Media as a means of lashing out at the administration in a battle that is mostly unjustified. Frankly, I think the use of the word "insubordination" is entirely appropriate in this situation.

It's interesting to me to see how the running commentary is typically partisan in nature. The "footballers" could care less and the "bandos" are almost blindly defending Sousa's actions...and his actions were both childish and detrimental to the future of the program.

It's going to be fascinating to see how this all works out.

1:25 PM  
Blogger GMan said...

"The Pride has a 144-year esteemed history with our university. It is never about just one person. We must stand together and work together to create the very best game day experience for all," the chancellor said.

Also attending the band meeting were Provost Susan Martin, College of Arts and Sciences Dean Theresa Lee, School of Music Director Jeff Pappas, Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Dave Hart, and UT Football Coach Butch Jones.

"I wholeheartedly support the right of students to be engaged and advocate for a cause about which they are passionate. But I am troubled by the use of inaccurate or misleading statements," Cheek said.

The news release also stated that UT officials said Sousa's promotion of misleading claims to alumni and band members has created a divisive and counterproductive environment.

UT also claims that Sousa encouraged students and alumni to speak out against the Athletics Department over reduced playing time and reductions in travel and budget. This followed the UT vs. Georgia game in which the band played significantly more than in this year's previous home games.

Doesn't matter what one thinks of Sousa, what matters are the facts. Cheek speaks so highly in public of the tradition of the band and on the other hand speak of reducing band time and budget. Therefore he is not telling the truth, cant tell it both ways.

6:45 PM  

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