Rivals admit missteps in band-kicker incident

After a video was posted online Saturday of Sam Houston State kicker Connor Crow pushing an associate band director from Stephen F. Austin off the field during halftime, both schools issued statements Monday afternoon that conceded missteps.

The Stephen F. Austin State University Lumberjack Marching Band was still performing, according to the school's athletic director, Ryan Ivey, when the incident occurred. The shaky video, apparently taken from somebody in the stands, shows Crow setting up his kicking tee within the 5-yard line, and starting to practice -- within feet of a band member still twirling her flag.

Before Crow kicks again, the video shows associate band director Chris Kaatz scrambling onto the field in his suit and snatching the tee, sending the football tumbling. Crow didn't act irate, but he did maneuver Kaatz back off the field before giving him a shove and calmly turning away to continue practicing.

Sam Houston State athletic director Bobby Williams said the incident "was not representative of the values" of the team or university.

"I have been part of the SFA rivalry for more than 38 years and am very proud of this tradition," Williams said. "It can bring out the best in all of us who participate in college football, however that passion can sometimes cloud the spirit of good sportsmanship. The incident on Saturday was not representative of the values of this team or our university, and we are working with SFA to ensure how both universities can better honor this rich tradition. In addition, we are working internally with our football staff to develop a better transition plan from halftime to the second half in order to give the bands full opportunity to showcase their hard work."

A Southland Conference rule states: "If kicking specialists or other players come out early during the halftime intermission, they are in no way to interfere with the band or any halftime events. Until the field is cleared, all players must keep their warm-up activity off the field of play."

According to Ivey, video shows the band cleared the field with 5:37 still left on the halftime clock.

Courtney Archer, a spokesperson for the Southland Conference, declined to say if the league had issued a ruling on whether or not Sam Houston State broke the rule. "Following discussions with these two schools, it was agreed that they will handle this internally," she said.

Ivey said it was an incident "neither institution condones."

"The Battle of the Piney Woods rivalry provides so much of what is good about college athletics," he said in a prepared statement. "Passion, pride and competitive spirit abound through both institutions. Unfortunately, this Saturday produced an incident that neither institution condones. We will continue to work together to promote positive sportsmanship and provide positive examples to everyone associated with this historic rivalry. I am confident in our ability to work collaboratively to ensure this situation does not reoccur, and I ask both fan bases to allow appropriate and fair action to take place. We can and should be the example of how rivals can work together for the betterment of the whole."