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Monday, July 23, 2012

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.
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