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WVU-Maryland band controversy simmers

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The recent controversy over the University of Maryland not allowing the West Virginia University marching band to perform on the field during Saturday's game in Baltimore actually has little to do with the universities' bands.

On Monday, WVU's band, "The Pride of West Virginia," announced that the University of Maryland had denied it permission to perform at M&T Bank Stadium, the home of the Baltimore Ravens.

The stadium is considered a neutral site, but University of Maryland officials say it's school policy that only their band performs on the field during home football games.

Zack Bolno, senior associate athletics director of media relations for the University of Maryland, said Wednesday that the school is merely following standard practice by not allowing WVU's band on the field, and said Maryland officials told WVU band administration about the fact in June.

"In order to allow them plenty of time for appropriate planning," Bolno said.

But WVU Band Director Jay Drury says that's not entirely true.

Maryland's band director contacted Drury during the summer asking if WVU's band was planning to attend. Shortly after, WVU received a message notifying them that their band was not allowed on the field, and WVU officials began working with Maryland officials to get the decision overturned, according to Drury.

"We had hoped as late as last Friday that they were still considering, and if they weren't, then they led us on for quite some time," Drury said. "We've talked to the band several times.

"This has nothing to do with the Maryland band. As college bands we all support each other, and the Maryland marching band did their best to try to help reverse this decision. This was definitely not their doing."

The announcement led to hundreds of people on social media sites such as Facebook to rally behind WVU's band to try to get them to be allowed to perform on the field.

Since the announcement was made on The Pride of West Virginia's official Facebook page Monday, more than 800 Facebook users have shared the message.

Some have even used the page to share with others the responses they've received from University of Maryland officials over the ordeal.

Drury is also perplexed by Maryland's claims that it's school policy. The WVU band performed at M&T Bank Stadium as recently as 2005, according to Drury.

As a former WVU student and band member himself, Drury remembers performing at Maryland more than once.

"As a matter of fact, we did a combined performance with the Maryland band a few times. It's definitely not a longstanding tradition," he said. "If this is the way they do it, it's not been that way forever."

While Drury called the announcement a great disappointment, there's a silver lining. The public's help over the past week has been "very touching," and many of the band members have opted to attend the Maryland game, despite everything, to play in the stands.

"We're always appreciative when the fans show their support," Drury said. "Probably one of the things most disappointing about this is that our kids really enjoy performing for their fans and getting on the field to show what they can do. The fact that we have a lot of fans that are going be there and that a lot of our kids come from Maryland or surrounding areas, it means the field is a lot closer for some families than WVU and they won't get to see them perform."

Kickoff for Saturday's game at the Baltimore Ravens stadium is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.

Reach Mackenzie Mays at mackenzie.mays@wvgazette.com">mackenzie.mays@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4814.

 


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