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VCU's Revealing Pep Band Leader

Just your typical pep band leader.

I'd heard tales of the VCU pep band leader's legendary shirt-shedding performances for ever so long, but most of the videos didn't do it justice. This one, in which Ryan Kopacsi gets down to a white t-shirt, was about the best I had come across.

But finally, sent a crew to Richmond, which resulted in the best video I've seen thus far, although I have no doubt that it gets far more interesting than this at times. I mean, in my day, pep band leaders were a bit dowdy, merely waving their arms demurely as their charges played, say, "My Boyfriend's Back." And now we have pep band's led by guys who regularly strip down to skimpy t-shirts and have modeling Web sites featuring photos of themselves in nothing but underwear. Different times, I guess. I hear the band really brings down the house with 2 Live Crew's "Take it Off."

The full CSTV write-up, including a photo of a VCU fan dressed like a banana, can be found here. The video is after the jump.

By Dan Steinberg  |  February 19, 2008; 11:26 AM ET
Categories:  College Basketball  
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That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 19, 2008 11:59 AM | Report abuse

You left out "ly awesome."

Posted by: James | February 19, 2008 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Jeff Capel would've never allowed this to happen.

Posted by: | February 19, 2008 12:07 PM | Report abuse

I went to VCU and it did happen during Capel's time. It's sad its still going on 7 years later.

Posted by: J | February 19, 2008 12:14 PM | Report abuse

This auto-play video is killing me. Push it down the page, Steinz!

Posted by: Jamie Mottram | February 19, 2008 3:22 PM | Report abuse

The Greatest Show on Earth has nothing on Ryan and the VCU band at halftime. Love him or hate him. He puts on an entertaining show. He draws you in watching him and the Ram Band takes it from there. VCU gets lots of attention because of him. Numerous mentions on Buffalo radio stations during the NCAA's last year. If you want an autograph, just stop by and Ryan will give you one.

Posted by: Obelix | February 19, 2008 5:43 PM | Report abuse

I saw this guy at the BB&T and this video does not do him justice. He did much more of a striptease type dance and was actually giving Maryland fans the finger.

Maybe they deserved it but I was surprised the school allows this to go on. Students are students, you can only control them so much, but to allow this guy to be affiliated with the University... I was embarrassed for VCU.

Posted by: M | February 19, 2008 6:31 PM | Report abuse

Go the University of Richmond first, then come to Virginia Commonwealth University. There is no comparison! The band at VCU is far superior. They get the fans worked up. They are awesome and it is because of their leader--Ryan. Besides he is entertaining. Glad we have him!

Posted by: Gene | February 19, 2008 7:10 PM | Report abuse

I have seen Ryan and the Pep band many many times I am a season tickets holder at VCU. At first I was a but taken back by his antics. But when you listen to him speak about it and you really stop to think about what it is he does its great. He and the band add such another dimension to the basketball games. Me and the family obviously come to see the game but unlike other schools where there is a lot of dead time VCU has stuff going on all the time. The dance team is great and the cheerleaders.

The thing I think that took me back the most about him is when I met him how down to earth he was. He wasn't pompous or loud or any of that. He was very grateful to be recognized for doing a good job.

Posted by: Fan | February 19, 2008 8:53 PM | Report abuse

Was this article necessary? I don't think the CSTV interview is intended to be derogatory but instead recognizes that he's different. Yes, Ryan has his own way of doing things but it's FUN! I'm sorry we are not still in the days of the dowdy pep band merely waving their arms demurely but a rather a pep band that has spirit and spunk and gets the participation of the crowd. And Ryan does that.

And as far as the photo, he's a model. So? Whether you like them or not, the pictures are not in poor taste. I don't think they belong in this article at all. Just because we can cut and paste photos, doesn't always mean we should.

I wish someone would write an article not about Ryan's antics but his character. I think you might be surprised at what you find. Outrageousness might get him attention but hard work, dedication, and devotion get him hired back every year.

Posted by: S | February 19, 2008 9:45 PM | Report abuse

I have seen him many times @ Barcode and Godfrey's in Richmond. Often seen drawing all kinds of attention.

Posted by: Jimmy | February 19, 2008 10:19 PM | Report abuse

I've seen him and I don't care if people say he's entertaining... he's an embarassment... has VCU heard of class? WOW.

Strippers are entertaining... but they don't belong at a college basketball game.


Posted by: DCfan | February 19, 2008 10:42 PM | Report abuse

I would like to see what would happen if they take him out of the picture. You will find a very disappointed school. Everyone here likes him, and he doesn't do anything distastful. He just really gets into the music and you can't blame him, the band sounds really awesome.

He keeps people's spirits high which helps at the games. Are fans are really pumped, and that energy carries to the players, which helps keep their spirits high to help them play better, that and our team is just really good period.

Those pictures are a completely separate thing from what he does at the basketball games. And to try and tie them together is just not fair.
One a side note, I think it rude to tell us we have no class. If you don't like it, then don't come and/or don't say anything.

Posted by: B | February 19, 2008 11:19 PM | Report abuse

Seems like he's having fun and not a stereo type band director. At least he's not a racist stereotyped Pimp like GMU's band leader. If I was black,I think that's more embarrassing than having someone who is himself.

Posted by: purewhitebread | February 19, 2008 11:24 PM | Report abuse

Dan Steinberg,

I want to commend you on a fantastic job. More press more press more press.....94 feet both ways. To all you VCU fans you know what that means. To the rest of you one day I am sure you will get it.

The comments listed both harsh and kind are very much appreciated by me. Most that know me know that I respect peoples opinions even if I don't always agree with them.

I want everyone to do me a favor. Close your eyes take a deep breathe now watch the video one more time. Take away you preconceived notions about who I am or what I represent. Look at it. If you don't like it ask yourself why. If you do like it ask yourself why. No need to comment however just know that it is different. It IS energy it IS music it IS what the VCU pep band represents. We love to play our music. We love to get excited. We love our great team and great coach and great university. Is that disgraceful? No! Is it different? Yes!

I want to take the time to respond to just a few of these comments...Jeff Capel was a man I considered a friend. A real persons person. You always felt comfortable talking to him about anything. Thank you Jeff for the support you showed me during your time at VCU and good luck in the future.

The BB&T classic what a great day! Wow how far Maryland has come. On that day VCU clearly the better team. Being once a Maryland resident I knew the crowd could be hostile but wow! MD definitely had a strong inspired fan base. At no time did I make any obscene gestures to ANY fan. That comment is completely false.

Godfreys and Barcodes (2 gay bars in Richmond)huh? If I were a homosexual would that matter? Would that make me less classy? If your answer is yes then you should not worry about this article. FYI I am not homosexual.

Class ah yes what we all strive for... to be classy. Well personally I don't see being as energetic as I am and doing the things I do classless. However Quite often I hear grown men yelling at officials. Calling them idiots. Where is the class in that. I am sure everyone has a classless moment at some point in their life.

Please do not take the time to let this article whether the intent was good or the intent was to poke fun please don't let it drag you down. There is no reason to speak of the Mason pep band leader in a bad manor. He is not in question here I am. I can appreciate the hard work he puts in.

I will close with this. Some of you will love me. Some of you will hate me. But ALL of you will have an opinion. This article and these comments have not and will not ever break my spirit. I love what I do and most people realize that love it or hate it. I am pretty sure you have made it big time though when directly after you beat DUKE in the NCAA's there are DUKE fans asking to take pictures with you. Duke is not my favorite school but its fan base is rich and deep. When I received that honor from them I was extremely grateful.

See you all at the next game ;)

Posted by: Ryan Kopacsi | February 20, 2008 1:05 AM | Report abuse

That's my youtube video...nice!

Posted by: Susan | February 20, 2008 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Hey... he is the reason that people come to the game... and he is a lot of fun... the people here at VCU enjoy having him... and its not like he strips everything off... he just takes his extra layers of shirts off... and has fun with the crowd... i cant imagine a VCU game without him...

Posted by: VCU GIRL | February 20, 2008 7:26 PM | Report abuse

How old is this guy? What does he do for a living? Nipples pierced, seriously????Why does he feel the need to be idolized by mid-major band geeks?

Still, he is loved, and is a god in the eyes of the abundant alternative lifestyle VCU undergrad student.

Posted by: casual spectator | February 21, 2008 9:28 AM | Report abuse

This is the reason I go to the CAA Tournament every year. The band is great. The team is great. And Ryan's performance brings down the house. Good job on taking the CAA regular season, VCU. Now it's time to own the CAA Tournament!

Posted by: Al | February 28, 2008 5:23 PM | Report abuse

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