UT band leader on leave, Chancellor's letter details issues

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Dr. Cheek, Chancellor of The University of Tennessee, sent a letter of disappointment to Gary Sousa, the Director of the Pride of the Southland Band who's now on administrative leave for the remainder of the fall semester.

Officials cited insubordination, misrepresentation of facts and a lack of confidence in Gary Sousa's ability to work constructively and collaboratively with others going forward. 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."

Associate Director of Bands, Don Ryder will serve as interim director.

Cheek met with members of the Pride of the Southland band this afternoon to discuss the change in leadership and to ask for their help.

"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.

UT officials said Sousa's promotion of misleading claims to alumni and band members has 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. This followed the UT vs. Georgia game in which the band played significantly more than in this year's previous home games.

In a letter to Sousa, Provost 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."

Sousa has served as director of bands and professor of music since 1997. He is a tenured faculty member in the School of Music.

Ryder has worked for UT for 14 years. He also conducts the UT Symphonic Band and teaches undergraduate instrumental conducting.

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