Sept. 30, 2004
By Justin Fenton The Diamondback
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (U-WIRE) - In a stunning reversal that caught Maryland athletic department officials off guard, the Sportsmanship Committee voted yesterday morning to overturn its ban on "Rock and Roll, Part II" from home men's basketball games, setting up administrators and coach Gary Williams to make a final call on the popular cheer today.
The committee - constituted of students, varsity coaches and administrators - voted 6-3 yesterday to readopt the song after coming to a consensus at a students-only meeting on Sunday night that the decisions had not represented the views of committee members and the student body. It is unclear, however, if the song will remain banned from football games.
Only three of the then-six student members originally were present for an August vote to ban the song from football games, and the ban at basketball games did not come to a vote, though it was formally announced at a Student Government Association meeting last week. Since then, SGA President Aaron Kraus and Kelaine Conochan have lobbied the committee to reverse its decision.
"We represent students, and not anyone else," said Kraus. "If the administration wants to get rid of it, they can get rid of it. We have bigger problems with sportsmanship we need to deal with, and we can't lose credibility by banning something [students] want."
But yesterday's vote does not mean students will be telling opponents "Hey, you suck" to the tune of Gary Glitter's 1972 hit "Rock and Roll, Part II" just yet. Williams will meet today with Athletics Director Debbie Yow and Vice President of Student Affairs Linda Clement - who sources say are strongly united in their opposition to the tune - to decide the song's fate. Yow said yesterday she will accept Williams' decision.
Athletics Department liaison Lauren Spates told the SGA Sept. 22 that Williams opposed the cheer because it hindered the team's performance. The decision never came to a vote before Spates' announcement.
"If coach Williams believes that "R and R, Part II" should continue to be played at men's basketball games, I believe it will happen," Yow said. "Dr. Clement and I are going to meet with him tomorrow and ask him to be as clear and candid on this as coach Friedgen has been."
Friedgen has repeatedly expressed a dislike for the song, saying it is a form of taunting and has hurt the team's recruiting.
Committee members were under the impression yesterday they had voted to play the song at football games as well, though not until next season. Yow said she was unsure what decision the committee had come to on football, but said she hoped the committee would respect Friedgen's wishes. Spates said if students want the song, they will re-evaluate their decision on banning it from football games.
"We're willing to do that, but it will be a much tougher sell," she said.
University President Dan Mote could not be reached for comment, but he made his view on the song clear following his State of the Campus address on Sept. 13. The song "doesn't make students look intelligent and classy" and "embarrassed alumni, friends and the university in general," he said.
Students fought the decision, filling the editorial page of The Diamondback with letters to the editor and attempting to start the cheer at football games without the aid of the band.
But the committee had been privately fighting to get the song back as well. In addition to suggestions made in a full-page ad in Monday's Diamondback - including publishing a newsletter called the Garyland Gazette - committee members have been meeting with athletic department officials and brainstorming scenarios under which the song could be played.
Sophomore Mike Mastrantuono, a member of The Crew - a group of student fans who travel with the men's soccer team - joined the committee three weeks ago and said he initially opposed the song.
"After much debate, it pains me to say that I think we should we should bring it back," he said. "There's just other issues that are a lot more important than the word 'sucks,' and that's basically the bottom line. It's a word frequently used on basic television."
The three voting to keep the song silenced were Graduate Student Government Vice President for Public Relations David Foster, women's basketball coach Brenda Frese and men's track and field coach Andrew Valmon. The administrators on the committee are not voting members. Frese said she applauded the ban.
Though surprised to hear the administration might reverse a decision, many students said they were pleased.
"I loved it - it was our only tradition," said junior accounting and finance major Matt Greisler. "... now we have something like other big state schools."
Valerie Hagan, a senior psychology major, said she was surprised that Williams was for the song given how outspoken he was about other aspects of fan behavior, even though she said she was personally happy to see it back.
"It brings us together," she said.
However, junior economics major Peter Muenzfeld was unfazed. "It doesn't matter to me," he said. "[But] once they made up their mind, you think they woulda kept it."