Bolt from the Blue

Despite how big a piece of my college career it became, I didn't select my undergraduate institution based on the athletic program or athletic bands.

One making such a decision recently--pre-November, that is--would have done well to select Penn State. The athletic department is as high-profile as any, and each fall Saturday, the Sudler Trophy-winning marching band performs to a stadium that seats better than 106,000. Add to that playing in the strongest marching conference in major college football and a likely bowl trip each year, and the opportunity to be part of Penn State's Blue Band holds quite the lure.

NCAA sanctions following the Jerry Sandusky scandal have significantly tarnished the luster of Penn State athletics and its related programs. The easing of the penalty for transferring football players already has sharks circling in the water. But what of those who selected or are considering Penn State for its marching band? While the football program was spared the death penalty, what was a promising outlook will now surely include no bowl games and likely no away game travel, given the massive monetary hit the athletics budget will take. Add to that the university's scarred reputation and its most high profile program operating at bare bones, and the thrill may be gone from participation in the Blue Band. I wish them the best going forth, but with the limitations placed upon it, it's going to be difficult to retain its members and even tougher to recruit.


Anonymous said…
Hi! As a Blue Band member, I thought I'd chime in. I haven't heard of anyone leaving the band (and I doubt anyone will). Honestly, the Bowl Trip is one of the smallest portion of the Blue Band experience. Of course we are disappointed with the sanctions, but we are all still ready to rally around each other and perform around the state, represent our university at sporting events around the nation, and play for the most appreciative marching band crowd in America, 110,000 strong in Beaver Stadium, every Saturday. Many of us were concerned with the effect on recruiting as you mentioned, but our preliminary "Intent to Audition" numbers are very encouraging (actually significantly higher than they have been in recent history). With a strong band program that will alwyas bring in top-level musicians, and our National Champion majorettes, feature twirler, and dance team, it's safe to say that "The Greatest Show in College Football" is here to stay in Happy Valley! :-)

"For the Glory of Old state, Raise the Song, Raise the Song."
Curtis said…
Thanks for chiming in, and I'm glad to hear that for Blue Band. I'm especially pleased to hear that recruitment numbers are looking good, as that's where I feared both the band and the University may suffer. It may be early yet, but I know the schedule had y'all traveling to Illinois. Any word on if that's affected or not?