Word of the Boston College athletic department's decision not to send marching band members to the Emerald Bowl at the end of the month spread quickly throughout the Eagle community. And marching band alumni are now speaking out against the decision.
"I think the team will suffer without any band there," said Ryan Schiel, a 2008 graduate, who is originally from Toledo, Ohio, e-mailing his criticisms from Afghanistan, where he is currently serving in the Army. "I know personally from talking to players throughout my tenure at BC that the band pumps up not only the crowd but also the team."
School officials have cited funding and the timing of the game, which is the day after Christmas. On Tuesday, BC spokesman Jack Dunn said, "Given the timing of the bowl, over the Christmas weekend, the decision was made so as not to impose on band members to miss Christmas with their families." The bowl game is taking place at AT&T Park in San Francisco on Dec. 26 versus the University of Southern California Trojans -- who are bringing their marching band.
Schiel, a four-year member of the band's drumline who performed at a 2007 bowl game, said BC should at least have let a small contingent of band members attend the game.
"BC has a lot of students who are from California and will be home for the holidays," Schiel said. "It is a travesty, and BC Athletics should hang their head for this."
Jen Greenwich, a 2008 graduate who played piccolo for one year and sousaphone for three years, also was upset.
"I understand the economy isn't great, but the students should not suffer. I'm sure the football team will be a little miffed when they find out that athletics isn't sending their band," Greenwich said. "I think the holiday would be a valid reason for students to not go, but many students are willing to sacrifice the holiday for the team. That's the kind of dedication and heart that the band has."
When the women's basketball team advanced in the 2006 NCAA tournament, Greenwich said, the band was not sent out to Illinois to play for the team and fans. Instead, Greenwich claimed, the department hired the Purdue University pep band.
"The women's team was hurt, and more than a few band members were unhappy with the decision," Greenwich said. "I was disgusted watching the game on television because their band did not know anything about the team or how to cheer for Boston College, and there was no one to welcome the team back to the hotel."
Messages left seeking comment at the athletics department were not returned Wednesday.
"Not sending the band shows a clear lack of respect for the band and the hard work they put in," Greenwich said. "I just find this completely unacceptable."
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