COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) -- University of Missouri administrators have apologized to the U.S. Naval Academy for what appears to have been a misunderstanding during band performances at the Texas Bowl game last week.
MU's marching band has been taking heat on blogs and online news forums for continuing to play the MU fight song as the Naval Academy band began to play its "Blue and Gold" anthem. A Facebook page dedicated to the Texas Bowl also is laced with comments from people saying Missouri should "be ashamed."
MU spokeswoman Mary Jo Banken said Missouri's band didn't realize the Naval Academy had begun playing and that there was never any attempt to disrespect Navy tradition.
"Given our great respect for the Naval Academy and all those serving in our country in the armed forces of the United States, we greatly regret the misunderstanding," she said.
Representatives of MU and the Naval Academy agreed during a pregame meeting that the losing team's band would perform first, Banken said. After Missouri's loss in the Texas Bowl, MU's band began playing its typical sequence, MU band Director Tom O'Neal said. That includes playing the fight song, singing the alma mater and finishing with another round of the fight song.
The Naval Academy's band apparently began performing before MU's band had completed that sequence, he said. And MU's some 300 band members did not hear the academy's 50 performers start playing their own alma mater from the opposite corner of the field, he said.
Richard Johnson, executive vice president of the U.S. Naval Academy Foundation, said he finds it hard to believe that was the case. He attended the game and said he watched MU band officials looking over their shoulders as the Naval Academy began to play.
"I'm not sure this isn't revisionist history going on," he said. "I think Navy fans were disturbed by it. It was an embarrassment for Missouri. Whether or not it was intentional, that's the way it came across."
MU has an "outstanding band," he said, but the performance went "on and on and on."
The Naval Academy considers the issue to be a misunderstanding, according to its public statement. "We do not believe there was any intent to show disrespect toward the Naval Academy," the statement read.
Over the past few days, Missouri officials have been apologizing to the academy. O'Neal has been in contact with the Naval Academy's band director, and MU Chancellor Brady Deaton contacted his counterpart at the academy to apologize, Banken said.
MU Athletics Director Mike Alden issued a public apology for "any unintended perception of disrespect" the incident caused.
"It was and is the intention of the University of Missouri to always respect and honor the rich and proud traditions of our opponents, even more so the United States Naval Academy and the men and women who so proudly represent our country," Alden said.
O'Neal planned to post public apologies and the Naval Academy's response Wednesday on the band's Web site at www.mubands.missouri.edu.
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