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Leader of VCU’s band ‘The Peppas’ retiring at 34

Akron v VCU

AUBURN HILLS, MI - MARCH 21: Band members from the Akron Zips perform against the Virginia Commonwealth Rams during the second round of the 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at at The Palace of Auburn Hills on March 21, 2013 in Auburn Hills, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Getty Images

Monday was a sad day for college hoops diehards around the country, as Ryan Kopacsi, the leader of the most beloved band in the country, has stepped down from his post at VCU.

Kopacsi took over the Peppas at the age of 19, and after a decade-and-a-half at the helm, he announced his retirement on his facebook page late Monday night.

“Today I step away from the band which has been revered and adored by many,” Kopasci wrote. “Its impact on the community, the school, the lives of people who are in it, and mine are not measurable. The amount of media attention and press brought to the university in which I love was never even imagined. While I am certain it will be fine with out me, there will be sadness in me for awhile.”

“I can not thank the people enough who loved me, hated me, loved the kids, supported us, fought for us, and care about me and the band. I love you all.”

A facebook page supporting Kopasci’s return to the program received more than 1,200 likes in less than 12 hours.

The Peppas had long been college basketball’s of the best kept secrets, but with Shaka Smart leading the Rams to the Final Four in 2011, the country fell in love. The Peppas were different than just about every other bands. They were willing to play anywhere to get attention -- atop a bus outside the Today Show studio, a park in the middle of Portland, and who can forget their infamous trip down San Antonio’s River Walk -- and the energy with which they play was a perfect match for Smart’s ‘Havoc’ system.

Kopasci led the way, as he’s built a reputation for stripping off his clothes during games. He’s proud of the fact that he was disliked by everyone outside of VCU in the CAA, and was well on his way to reaching that status in the Atlantic 10.

The Peppas are best known, however, for War, the video at the top of this post.

We at CBT will miss Ryan, but here’s to hoping the Peppas carry on his legacy properly. I have no doubt they will.

Follow @robdauster