For the first time since the entire UW-Madison marching band was suspended and kept out of the football team's Oct. 4 Camp Randall game against Ohio State, band members resumed pratice, with no guarantee they will play at Saturday's badger home game against Penn State.
Band director Mike Leckrone has told 27 News the suspension was the result of accusations of a pattern of season long hazing, and allegedly inappropriate actions by band members during last month's trip to Michigan for a badger game.
As practice began, Leckrone urged band members to focus on their performance, despite the swirl of attention and controversy over the accusations and suspension.
"These kids are anxious to get out, get out there and sort of have some therapy," Leckrone told 27 News. "It's not going to be hard to get them fired up. More than anything else, they want to prove that what you've heard and read about us, isn't us. I think they are anxious to get that point."
Leckrone has said the accusations involve a small portion of the more than three hundred member band.
Former band member David Gauder sued Leckrone in 2004 after Leckrone fined him and 28 other band members for being aboard a band bus with disruptive behavior. Gauder said he refused to pay the fine because he broke no conduct rules, and sees a parallel between his experience and the current predicament for many band members. "I didn't feel I had an appropriate voice or an avenue to say this is wrong, or explain my side of the story."
Gauder's lawsuit failed. Leckrone said the current, sweeping suspension was justified because every band member bears some responsibility in tolerating a band atmosphere where hazing could take place. Chancellor Biddy Martin has said she supports Leckrone's actions.
UW-Madison officials said their investigation into the accusations continues and and announcement on the band and the upcoming game is expected later this week.