Replacement recommendations for the VCU pep band leader

VCU recently announced that famed pep band leader, Ryan Kopacsi, would be stepping down after 18 years of building “The Peppas” pep band into a national brand in the college hoops world. The school and Kopacsi reportedly could not come to an agreement three years after an almost identical contract dispute.

“We did everything that we could to keep Ryan,” VCU Director of Athletics Ed McLaughlin said in a statement. “He decided to leave on his own, but we appreciate his long service to VCU as he goes in a different direction with his life.”

Kopacsi went into more detail in a recent interview, telling Style Weekly, “I don’t want to leave. I don’t want to leave. The main factor is, there comes a time when rubber’s got to meet the road. There is stuff that I want to do with this band that unless action is taken — and I guess pretty drastic actions, then none of that will ever start to take place.”

Kopacsi set off a social media firestorm in August of 2013, taking to Facebook for his first decision to leave VCU. He however never formally sent VCU a letter of resignation, allowing the band leader and then-new VCU AD, Ed McLaughlin, a chance to negotiate a new contract. The announcements, both in leaving and resigning, received national coverage, something unheard of in the world of college basketball pep bands.

In this latest episode of VCU pep band negotations, Kopacsi once again appears up for a return and once again appears to have a huge amount of fan support behind him. But will VCU and Kopasci reach a compromise on the terms?

Whether or not VCU Athletics is over the relationship and Kopacsi’s style of negotiations remains to be seen. So with that, where does VCU go in a post-Kopacsi pep world?

Fear not, I have some recommendations on how the VCU pep band can not only keep the momentum going…but possible even take things to the next level.



Kopacsi stated in the Style Weekly interview that his dream scenario (if he won the pep band lotto) for the pep band would include 30-40 scholarships. At $13k per year (from my lightning-quick/lazy research), that’s $390k minimum before including Kopacsi and his assistant’s salaries. Lil Jon (of Lil Jon and the Eastside Boyz fame) reportedly has a guarantee of $16-$22k per performance. For about 25 home/neutral games, if VCU can negotiate the minimum contract (because you know, those 25 guaranteed performances…talking bulk rate here), that’s $400k, which potentially saves the Rams a few dollars AND gets VCU crunk in the process. YEAAAAH.


I saw Big Freedia live once in Richmond and while I did not make it on to the stage for the ultimate twerk off, shook my toned white ass for 40 straight minutes. I don’t know what Freedia’s guarantee is these days but I would imagine it’s gone up after her popular reality TV series. As a trans performer Freedia’s addition to the black and gold would highlight the inclusive atmosphere at Virginia Commonwealth University while making the Siegel Center the twerk capitol of the Atlantic 10…as if it isn’t already. YOU already KNOOOOOOOW.


What the hell is Trick Daddy doing these days anyway? Ok I looked it up, he’s about to be in the next “Love & Hip Hop”. Anyway, he’s got some available time and with that, a much more affordable guarantee than during his prime in the late 90s/early 2000s. Now we’re already saving money. Add to that some previous experience with bands/marching bands/marching band samples and he becomes and even more suitable candidate to direct his first real live band. He also comes LOADED with life experience (and quite possibly loaded as well), bonus points for him in his new influential position as pep band leader.


Why do pep bands have to all sound relatively the same anyway? I mean let’s be real, when was the last time you listened to ANYTHING that sounded like a pep band while driving somewhere? So now that we can all agree that pep band music actually isn’t all that great to listen to in the first place, let’s just book the most agreeable music among all people on Earth: reggae. Everyone loves reggae and the rare few who don’t are probably members of ISIS. My personal No.1 choice would be Yellowman, but any festival-level reggae band or even a group of local Ras Trents would probably do the job just fine. Adding a reggae band also keeps VCU ahead of the curve when it comes to pep band activity while making the Stu the most irie basketball venue of all of the cities of all of the worlds.

Mat Shelton-Eide has been involved in college athletics since 2007, starting as a co-founder of where he covered the Rams all the way...