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Monday, December 30
Updated: December 31, 4:43 PM ET
Virginia apologizes for mocking West Virginia

Associated Press

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- The University of Virginia apologized Tuesday for the performance of a student pep band that made fun of West Virginians during halftime of the Continental Tire Bowl.

The independent band of Virginia students staged a parody of the television show "The Bachelor" at Saturday's game, with a male Virginia student choosing between two female contestants.

One female, purported to be from West Virginia, had blue overalls, pigtails, a talent for square dancing and a dream to move to Beverly Hills, Calif. -- a reference to "The Beverly Hillbillies."

West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise demanded an apology from Virginia President John T. Casteen.

"This type of performance merely perpetuates the unfounded stereotypes that we in West Virginia are fighting so hard to overcome," Wise wrote Casteen.

Virginia spokeswoman Carol Wood said Tuesday that Casteen and other university officials are reviewing the pep band's performance.

"We take this issue very seriously and we are sorry that this incident occurred," Wood said. "We respect our colleagues at West Virginia University and all the citizens of West Virginia and do not in any way favor action that might insult them."

Wood said officials are seeking a videotape and other information about the performance, "which is proving a little difficult during a time with so many of the people from whom we need information on winter break."

She said Casteen's response is expected by the end of the week.

Casteen already has called West Virginia University President David C. Hardesty about the performance, but Wood said she did know what Casteen said. Virginia athletics director Craig Littlepage phoned his counterpart at West Virginia to express "disappointment and regret at what happened," Wood said.

Virginia has received about 200 e-mails from West Virginia and Virginia fans.

Ken Haines, the Tire Bowl's executive director, said he approved a five-paragraph script presented by band officials before the game but decried the performance as "childish." He said the pep band is not welcome at future Tire Bowls.

The pep band also lampooned West Virginia at halftime of a 1985 game in Charlottesville. That performance, a parody of "Family Feud," included derogatory references to indoor plumbing and birth control in West Virginia.

School officials later apologized. The Tire Bowl in Charlotte, N.C., a 48-22 Virginia victory, was the first meeting between the two schools since that game.

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