The Cavalier Daily
Serving the University Community Since 1890

A different drum

Nearly 8 years ago, the University athletics department exiled the student-governed Pep Band, the only student band that the University had known at sporting events for the previous 33 years. The decision was ostensibly due to an offensive joke performed by the band on the field at Virginia's defeat of West Virginia's football team. Although the joke has often been misrepresented, the fact that the script was approved by both the athletics department and the officials of the bowl game is rarely repeated.

Since the Pep Band's ousting, the Virginia football team has a 41-48 record, has only been to three bowl games and has yet to beat Virginia Tech. Football attendance is sagging and the only students at the University who have seen a winning season are those in their fourth year. We have fired two basketball head coaches and one football head coach. One might even think some sort of unholy jinx was cast upon a school that can remember having the No. 1 ranked college football team in the nation for three weeks in 1990.

If you are looking for some karmic burden, some crime which is exacting its slow retribution, I suggest the treatment of the Pep Band. The policy of the athletics department toward the Pep Band has been a vindictive salting of the earth, meeting offers for cooperation with the new marching band with utter rejection and pleas for compromise - even from Student Council and The Cavalier Daily - with silence. They have robbed the Pep Band of its sole purpose, the dedicated musical support of University athletics, be it football, basketball or even sports that rarely see a contingent from today's marching band, such as lacrosse, soccer or field hockey.

At an institution which supposedly values student self-governance, the athletics department's behavior has been beyond ludicrous. The damage done to a unique and venerable University tradition is unconscionable and the thought of what the Pep Band and marching band could have accomplished were they allowed to cooperate together these last eight years makes this even more regrettable.

The curse of the Pep Band hangs heavily over University sports and redemption rarely comes to the unrepentant. Eight years ago, the now dethroned head coach Al Groh said, "A championship football team needs a championship marching band." Although this may be true, perhaps it is also true that Thomas Jefferson's student-governed University needs a student-governed band, too.\n\nJames Maxwell\nGSAS