UT director of bands suspended for insubordination, interim director named
UT Director of Bands, Gary Sousa
Interim Director of Bands Don Ryder (Source: University of Tennessee)
KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The University of Tennessee has placed Director of Bands Gary Sousa on administrative leave for the remainder of the semester.
Don Ryder will serve as interim director of bands for the remainder of the season.
UT officials say insubordination, misrepresentation of facts and a lack of confidence in Sousa's ability to work constructively and collaboratively with others are the reasons for the suspension.
The administrative leave is pending a full review.
"We fully support the Pride of the Southland Band," Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek said. "We want every student musician to have a great experience and enjoy being part of a wonderful and cherished tradition."
Cheek met with members of the Pride of the Southland band Monday afternoon to discuss the change in leadership and to ask for their help.
"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.
UT officials say Sousa's promotion of misleading claims to alumni and band members created a divisive and counterproductive environment.
Sousa encouraged students and alumni to speak out against the Athletics Department over reduced playing time and reductions in travel and budget.
In a letter to Sousa, Provost Susan Martin noted, "Competition for resources and conflict between competing interests within the university are normal. Your actions to circumvent the normal methods of conflict resolution are shockingly insubordinate."
Another letter sent by Cheek called Sousa's behavior unprofessional and "disruptive hysteria."
Sousa has served as director of bands and professor of music since 1997. He is a tenured faculty member in the School of Music.
Students we spoke with were disappointed with the news.
"I think it's really unfortunate," said Sean Glenn. "UT is not exactly an athletic institution. It's an educational institution and to see an educational teacher get fired is kind of unfortunate and it's pretty embarrassing on Jimmy Cheek's part to let someone go because the 'athletic institution' we've become."
Elizabeth Duffy, a student, echoed that sentiment. "I think it's really unfortunate. He's a big name here on campus and big leader and I just think it's sad they're changing some of the traditions with the Pride of the Southland. They're part of tradition, part of campus."
Ryder has worked for UT for 14 years. He also conducts the UT Symphonic Band and teaches undergraduate instrumental conducting.