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Knoxville News-Sentinel (Tennessee)
Megan Boehnke

In the two years before Gary Sousa was suspended as University of Tennessee band director, he largely stopped talking to anyone in the athletics department, maintained a computer file called "Athletics Battle 2013," and appeared threatened by the idea of reporting to the director of the School of Music, according to documents released Thursday by the University of Tennessee.

UT fired Sousa as director of bands in a letter Thursday, nearly five months after he was placed on administrative leave by Provost Susan Martin. His dismissal is effective March 31, though he will be able to retain his tenured faculty position in the School of Music.

The firing follows completion of an 80-page report that details tense and deteriorating relationships Sousa had with his boss, the athletics director and other campus administrators. He became involved in a very public battle within the university in October.

In the report, Vice Provost John Zomchick wrote that Sousa seemed threatened about losing control of the band and possessed a view of himself that differed from that of his colleagues.

"This review does reveal a pattern of behavior: a tendency to choose conflict over cooperation, indirect written communication over face-to-face discussion, and waging a 'bitter battle' through proxies over work-related differences," Zomchick wrote. "Unless team is defined as being limited to the pride of the Southland Band, this review found little evidence of a willingness to cooperate for the general welfare."

In his eight-page response, which was appended to the university's report, Sousa contested some of the findings and insisted his only concern was the welfare of his students.

"In every single instance referenced in the Review, my actions are focused solely on providing the students in the Pride of the Southland with a world-class educational experience, utilizing the long history and traditions for which the program is known," Sousa wrote.

Among the incidents cited in the report was a 2009 letter Sousa sent to Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive without notifying athletics officials. In it, Sousa complained about the use of recorded music over the school bands that were present at the game. Sousa insisted in his response to Zomchick's report that he notified then-Athletic Director Mike Hamilton, but an e-mail from Hamilton that was included in the report shows he was not aware of the letter.

In September 2013, after the university notified the band it would no longer subsidize clothing other than uniforms for the band, Sousa sought a new contract from athletic companies. He ultimately signed an agreement with Under Armor without discussing it with the athletics department, creating a "crisis" when a logo appeared on the gear that is protected through a licensing agreement UT already had with adidas.

Sousa wrote in his response that he went through the purchasing department to solicit bids on the clothing and was clear about how the clothing would be used.

Sousa was hired in 1997 from Sam Houston State University in Texas to take over the marching band. He received glowing - if somewhat sporadic - evaluations, according to his personnel file released in October.

With his accolades, Sousa also routinely received salary bumps, nearly doubling his pay from his starting annual salary of $75,000 to his current $152,000.

His salary will be reduced to $105,000 as of April 1.

Don Ryder, associate director of bands, will continue to serve as interim director until the university can conduct a national search for a replacement, UT officials said.

Related Documents:

Vice Provost Zomchick's Report to Gary Sousa

Gary Souse response to Vice Provost Zomchick's Report


Photo by Adam Brimer, Knoxville News Sentinel Pride of the Southland Marching Band director Dr. Gary Sousa directs the band during the "Star Spangled Banner" before the matchup between Tennessee and Georgia State at Neyland Stadium Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012. Tennessee 51-13 over Georgia State. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL) Gary Sousa


March 7, 2014




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