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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Not OK

The new band director at Oklahoma seems to be getting a vote of no confidence from many associated with the university. Justin Stolarik, the new director of the Pride of Oklahoma, has come under fire for changes that have been made in his brief tenure in Norman.

The criticism actually began prior to Stolarik even starting at OU The previous director, who served on the search committee, stated that he could not endorse Stolarik if he were the choice. In speaking with OU Daily, Gene Thrailkill seems to indicate that he feels the hire was done in a shady manner, not following what seemed to be standard procedure for search committees. Instead of an open vote, committee members were asked to e-mail their recommendations to the university president.

There is a lot at play here. First of all, it's actually quite pleasing that the university president has the final say in the hire of the band director - it shows that the institution considers a high level marching band a top level priority. That said, it also shows that the changes that Stolarik has made off the bat are the will - explicitly or implicitly - of the president. The Daily article indicates that there are donors, voting with their dollars, who sought change in the Pride's performances. Now that those changes are being made, Stolarik is taking flak from current and former band members and supporters.

Having seen both pregames, it's really just a matter of taste, though I can see why those who had an attachment to the previous iteration are none too pleased with the change. However, the issue seems to be just as much with the changes made as the man hired, or perhaps the manner in which he was hired. It's worth noting that Stolarik was selected over an internal candidate, and he was previously at Wisconsin; a lack of respect for the Badger Band and their national reputation in the band community is clearly at play here. There's no telling how Stolarik's station at OU will progress, but one thing's for sure, it's an unenviable position.
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