After Vanderbilt defeated Army 44-21 on Saturday night, the football team, along with its fans and marching band, sung and performed its alma mater.
Army’s players and band stood at attention, out of respect for Vanderbilt. But when the Black Knights began to perform their alma mater, music blared over the stadium’s loud speakers, drowning out their performance.
On Tuesday, Vanderbilt officials issued an apology on the school’s website, saying “please accept our apology for this mistake and oversight of your important protocol. You deserved better and we have learned from our mistake. We request your forgiveness.”
When reached on Tuesday, Army athletics department spokesman Ryan Yanoshak said he was unaware of the apology and didn’t think there was an issue.
“It was not intentional. It was not meant to be disrespectful,” Vanderbilt Vice Chancellor of Athletics David Williams said. “It was just something we should have caught. ... We just thought it was important to apologize to the people of West Point. They were kind enough as we did our alma mater, and we should have caught the fact that they were standing doing theirs — at least not played the music and tried to keep our team out there.”
Williams said he received “justifiable” complaints from “a lot of people, some of our own fans, some people who were fans of West Point who were here.”
“They were hoping in their comments that we weren’t doing that out of disrespect and we certainly weren’t,” Williams said. “It was a mistake on our part, and I think [West Point adminitrators] understand that. But we thought it was important to apologize to them.”
Williams said the same apology that was posted on Vanderbilt’s website had been sent to be published in West Point’s school newspaper.
Going forward, Williams said the school would try to be more respectful of visiting schools’ postgame routines.
“I think we got caught up in sort of what we have always seen,” Williams said. “We didn’t think to ask them, ‘Do you have any special protocol because you’re a military academy?’ But even with that, we saw them [standing in attention] and we should have adjusted anyway.”