published Friday, March 7th, 2014

Sousa removed as Tennessee's band director

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee has removed Gary Sousa as band director, five months after the band issued a statement saying it was in a "bitter battle" with the school's athletic department and complaining about reduced travel and budget cuts.

In a letter sent to Sousa on Thursday and obtained by The Associated Press through a public records request, Tennessee provost and senior vice chancellor Susan Martin said Sousa's own statements "demonstrate that you allowed your relationships with key university officials to deteriorate to the point that it is no longer possible for you to serve effectively as Director of Bands."

Sousa's removal as band director is effective March 31. Martin's letter stated Sousa would remain a tenured professor. His salary drops from $155,000 to $105,000.

"It is my sincere hope that you find renewed energy and commitment to your field in your faculty role and that you will remain a productive and valued member of the School of Music faculty," Martin wrote.

The school had relieved Sousa of his duties as band director on Oct. 14, a week after the band's letter detailing its complaints came out, and had placed him on administrative leave for the rest of the fall semester. Don Ryder was named interim director of bands at that point and will continue to serve in that role. University spokeswoman Karen Ann Simsen said Tennessee plans to conduct a national search for the position at some point.

Sousa had been Tennessee's band director since 1997.

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