UVA Pep Band Refuses To Die

There was an interesting letter to the Sports Editor in the Sunday, January 18th edition of the Richmond Times Dispatch from the President of the Friends of the Virginia Pep Band Inc. In the letter, David Black, responds to a previous report in the TD that the UVA Pep Band had ceased to exist. According to Mr. Black, the University of Virginia has allowed the Pep Band to continue to exist as a student organization. This fall, the Pep Band performed at a field show at a University of Pennsylvania football game in Philadelphia and played music from the stands at the Harvard-Columbia football game. While in New York, the Pep Band performed a humor based show at the bandstand in Central Park.

The Pep Band played outside Scott Stadium before every home football game this past year and the Band actively supports club sports such as rugby and ice hockey. It has also performed at several events in the Charlottesville community in recent months.

According to Mr. Black, student and alumni interest in the Pep Band has remained strong and the Cavalier Daily, the student newspaper, has supported the Pep Band's return to support sports such as soccer and lacrosse. The Friends of The Virginia Pep Band has sprouted to provide financial support to the Pep Band and advocacy for those who still enjoy the "scramble" band tradition at UVA.

For those of you who are not familiar with how things regarding the Pep Band reached its current state, let me give a little background. The Pep Band is one of the few "scramble" bands left in the country. Scramble bands are loosely organized and undisciplined in performance to the extent that some at UVA felt embarrassed by the band when it performs at public events such as football bowl games. Over the years there have been several embarrassing situations involving the PB and things really erupted at last year's Tire Bowl in Charlotte when the band did some things that West Virginia fans regarded as highly offensive. The UVA people apologized but the question of whether the PB would be allowed to continue to perform at athletic events (football) came under intense scrutiny. It was decided that the PB would no longer be permitted to perform with the football team ( don't think they ever played at basketball games ) and maybe that was a good thing because the Tire Bowl officials said they would no longer allow the PB to perform at the Tire Bowl. The change in policy came just in time because the Cavaliers played in the Tire Bowl again this year and it would have been embarrassing all around if the change had not taken place.

A decision has been made by UVA officials to form an official marching band and a band director has already been hired. Carl Smith, who gave the money for the Scott Stadium expansion, has given one and a half million dollars to get this enterprise off the ground and I would imagine the marching band will make its first public appearance sometime in the '04-'05 season.

So it looks like most of us won't see the UVA Pep Band any more unless, of course, we choose to attend the UNC- UVA game in Charlottesville. I have never particularly cared for the Pep Band because I knew they were really making fun of the marching bands that most other institutions have. I find, however, that I'm a little sad that it's being banished from public view. Just another example, I guess, of political correctness. How many of you knew that the political correctness movement is reputed to have had its origins at Duke? I'm serious. I believe this was reported in either Newsweek or Time Magazine.