VCU working to keep beloved band leader

The VCU pep band is widely recognized as one of the most captivating crews in the game. One YouTube search for some of its best work will silence any doubters.

“The Peppas” are legit and popular.

So when band director Ryan Kopacsi, 34, announced that he was retiring this week after 15 seasons as the group’s leader, he created a stir.

Here’s Kopacsi’s Facebook announcement, per WTVR.com in Richmond:

“Today I step away from the band which has been revered and adored by many. Its impact on the community, the school, the lives of people who are in it, and mine are not measurable,” Kopacsi posted on his Facebook page. “The amount of media attention and press brought to the university in which I love was never even imagined. While I am certain it will be fine [without] me, there will be sadness in me for [a while].”

In response, supporters created a “Keep Ryan at VCU” Facebook page, which had received more than 2,000 likes by Wednesday morning.

Fan Eugene Hunt, like other VCU backers, used the page to express his frustration.

“I am extremely disappointed that [Ryan] is leaving. He is a major part of Havoc. Do what you can to keep him.”

Well, the outpour led VCU to release an official statement on the situation on Tuesday through spokesman Scott Day. And according to the university, Kopacsi’s retirement is not official:

"The VCU Athletics Department learned last night via Facebook that Ryan Kopacsi has decided to retire from serving as director of The Peppas. However, VCU Athletics has not received a formal letter of resignation from Ryan and continues contract discussions with him, working through the University process before a final decision is made.

We take all contract negotiations seriously and honor their confidentiality until a final agreement is reached."

It’s not uncommon for schools to release statements about situations related to players, coaches and other team personnel.

But this might be the first official statement tied to a band leader. And the idea that the school is still waiting for Kopacsi to give the university an official resignation letter makes this sound like the typical drama we’re accustomed to encountering with college basketball and football coaches. Not band leaders.

It’s also a sign that the VCU community has embraced Kopacsi, and that it views him as a vital component in the pep band’s success.

Stay tuned.