Students may soon be deprived of one of the University of Tennessee’s more treasured traditions during football games. The Pride of the Southland Band was hit with funding reductions on Wednesday that will not only limit them to no away trips, but also could put a limit on what they play at home games to make room for recorded music over the intercom and university promoted videos.
Wednesday morning, the band was told that there would be a restriction on when they could play “Rocky Top.” This restriction keeps the band from playing UT;s official fight song, “Down the Field,” after a touchdown. According to drum major Jessica Henderson, this restriction was made to allow more music over the stadium speakers and keep the band to playing only “Rocky Top.”
“They said that we could play Rocky Top (after a touchdown) but not Down the Field,” Henderson said. “That is our fight song and that is just not us or our tradition.”
Included in the restriction was a reduction of funding that will keep the band from any away games for the time being. Henderson said that this has been happening for the last few years with the athletic department slowly taking away privileges from the band based solely on money.
“Athletics are having to make budget cuts because everyone is hurting for money,” Henderson said. “We physically could not (fund trips) on our own.”
Henderson said that this news probably shocks the athletics department as well. The athletics department came out with an official statement Wednesday evening stating the claims made were false. The statement said the claim that “Down the Field” would not be played is false as well as the claim that the band would not be able to participate at halftime.
While these claims are sorted out, Henderson said the band is staying positive and has responded well and respectively to the allegations.
“They have been so respectful, most of them, and very classy,” Henderson said. “They uphold our image for this band program, which took over 144 years to build, and we are not letting our emotions get the best of us.”
Henderson has started a petition, which has garnered more than 7,000 signatures in about 12 hours since it went live.
More developments as they come in.
Edited by Jennifer Brake