In a diatribe that since has been deleted from Facebook, the wife of Kansas State University’s band director lashed out Tuesday against what she claims is an “Internet mob” that has threatened her husband’s safety and livelihood.
Geralyn Tracz, wife of Frank Tracz, wrote a 660-word Facebook post after the university agreed to internal sanctions in the wake of a halftime performance Saturday that the Big 12 Conference contends might have violated its sportsmanship and ethics policies.
“As I watch my husband remain silent at the request of administration as his fate is decided, I feel I am under no such compulsion to do so,” Tracz said, quoting Winston Churchill as saying, “the truth is incontrovertible.”
“The truth of the current Internet firestorm my family is facing is that my husband and the K-State Marching Band have done NOTHING wrong,” Tracz wrote.
During a space-themed performance at Bill Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan, the band formed the shape of the University of Kansas mascot, the Jayhawk, battling what was supposed to be the Starship Enterprise. However, the starship’s shape resembled something phallic in nature.
The performance prompted a rash of jokes and derision on social media. Defenders also weighed in, including Kansas Rep. J.R. Claeys, R-Salina, and former “Star Trek” actor William Shatner.
“The Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon also decided to weigh in on the controversy Tuesday night during his monologue.
In her Facebook post, Geralyn Tracz said the “situation spiraled out of control when a perceived obscene formation from last Saturday’s halftime was tweeted out to the awaiting Internet mob!
“Since then, my husband has received emails stating that they are trying to get his name added to the list of sexual predators as well as threats if he shows his face in Lawrence.”
The university’s sanctions include a self-imposed $5,000 fine to be paid to the Big 12 and a single-game suspension for Frank Tracz. The band must also get prior approval of all halftime shows going forward.
A GoFundMe page was started Tuesday to help support the band. According to the page, “the money will go directly to the band and its scholarship fund since the fine will be paid by the Office of the President.”
The goal was raised from $5,000 to $10,000 after the amount was reached quickly, and as of 2:45 p.m. Wednesday, $10,895 had been raised.
Geralyn Tracz noted the “absolute absurdity” of a band formation causing an outrage in college football, a high-contact sport driven by taunts and emotion.
“I have also watched time and time again as athletes break the law and never even miss a practice. And yet — here we are,” she wrote.
Tracz said her husband has received hundreds of emails and tweets supporting him during his suspension and urged supporters to express their opinions in a respectful manner to officials at Kansas State University and the University of Kansas.
“At some point, common sense has to rule and say enough is enough,” Tracz said. “The Internet can cause so much damage, but it can also be a powerful tool. Time to use it for good.”
Tracz deleted her post Tuesday afternoon, writing, “Trying to get things to calm down so deleting post. Please let’s all just move ahead.” She replaced the post with a link to a radio program in which her husband said he had received more than 1,000 text messages and emails of support.
“The band did nothing wrong. These kids did absolutely nothing wrong,” Frank Tracz told Manhattan’s KMAN radio station.