MADISON (WKOW) -- UW-Madison marching band director Mike Leckrone told 27 News the suspension of the band for the Oct. 4 home football game against Ohio State was tied to alleged band misconduct last month in connection to the band's trip to play at the Michigan game in Ann Arbor.
Leckrone also told 27 News his unprecedented step of stopping the band form performing also stemmed from an alleged pattern of hazing he only learned about last week. "There were situations that we saw evidence that there was some kind of hazing going on from the beginning of the school year."
Leckrone also said there were alleged problems with band members during the band's trip to Michigan on the last weekend of September, despite staff supervision.
"I spent probably two hours in the hotel lobby between one and three in the morning, and we got nothing (complaints), so that's where the shock comes when you find out there were people that at some point violated our code."
Danielle Dennison of Stillwater, Minnesota, was also surprised by the accusation there were problems on the trip to Ann Arbor, given what her daughter Hayley, a junior and band member, observed on the trip. "This last Michigan trip, she said nothing happened. She did homework the whole way on her bus." Leckrone said 317 band members travelled to Michigan and several buses were used.
In 2006, then chancellor John Wiley reprimanded band members for actions during a previous trip to a Michigan game. University officials said the actions included women being forced to kiss other women to gain access to bathrooms, and a band member's head shaved as part of hazing.
Leckrone declined to provide specifics on the current accusations against band members. University officials had previously characterized the accusations as alleged hazing, inappropriate alcohol use, and sexualized behavior.
Leckrone told 27 News after the 2006 incidents, he instituted mentoring sessions for younger band members and seminars for band members to clarify expected behavior.
Leckrone said he's disappointed an alleged pattern of hazing went undetected until last week. "No, we didn't get the information," Leckrone told 27 News. "The people who were the recipients of hazing, they have to step up and say, people are not going to initimidate me. (But) I don't consider them at fault. When other people see it happening, they've got to make some kind of statement, come to me, anybody they're comfortable to talk with."
Leckrone told 27 News he may institute tighter band rules for away game trips, including having all freshmen band members travel on the same buses, and requiring frequent sign-ins by band members at hotels.
Leckrone said the university's investigation into the allegations may be complete by Tuesday, and a decision on whether the band will perform during the Badgers' Oct. 11 home game against Penn State may be made at that time.