Letter: Making sense of how the Oregon Athletic Band should be funded

Oregon Athletics Band. (Mason Trinca/Emerald File Photo)

Oregon Athletics Band. (Mason Trinca/Emerald File Photo)

Posted by Emerald on Monday, Jan. 28 at 3:33 pm.

Dear University of Oregon students and Oregon Athletic Band,

My name is Nick McCain, and I am the ASUO vice president. Over the past few weeks, the ASUO Athletics Commissioner Katherine Du Pont has been researching our band and others like it. My intent is not to attack the band or its members. I am approaching the situation from a fiscal standpoint and as a loyal senior Duck fan. My intentions — and those of fellow ASUO members — are to do what is best for the student body, and I hope that this coming discussion leads to positive changes between the ASUO, the OAB and the Athletic Department.

I admire the dedication and passion each member puts into the band. I personally know some of you and can attest to that commitment. However, this is not an attack on you or what you bring to each and every sporting event. This band is the largest student group on campus, and the ASUO values that tremendously.

But from a fiscal standpoint, the fact the ASUO funds $150,000 for an entity answering to the Athletic Department is a big concern.

I recognize that between the summer practices lasting as much as 12 hours a day, the fall term practices that are three days a week for three hours at a time, the twelve hours spent at each game and the long weekend trips for away games, OAB put in about 450 hours in fall term alone. And you do all of this for only two academic credits? Your dedication and passion for the University of Oregon is not in question.

What is in question is where the money should be coming from. The OAB provides a valuable service to the Athletic Department; however, the students are subsidizing that service at a cost of $150,000.

As you may know, only a few years ago, the Knight Library was not open 24 hours. However, ASUO used student funds to extend its hours. We recognized the value and importance of providing students with a safe place to study. And we still do. But, we believed it was the UO’s role and obligation to pick up the funding for this essential aspect of our college experience, and we worked with the UO to transition the funding model so that such a vital service was not subject to ASUO student fees.

A similar situation is now before us. We have an opportunity to remind Athletics of the vital service the OAB provides to our university. I believe that it is Athletics’ role and obligation to pick up the funding for this essential aspect of the athletic experience.

On Thursday night at 7:00 p.m., there will be a budget hearing to discuss the budget recommendation. I highly encourage you to attend, and I will do my best to ensure you all know the location as soon as it is determined.

You all deserve better. Better than the student fee can accommodate — but what Athletics can and should provide. This budget recommendation was made with you all in mind.

If you have any questions, comments or concerns please contact me at nmccain@uoregon.edu.


Nick McCain

Correction: McCain asked the Emerald to correct his letter so that it did not state that the Oregon Athletic Band answers entirely to the Athletic Department. The correction was made Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013 at 11:25 a.m.

  • Zack

    I have a question, what athletic event was happening at the fishbowl in that photo?

    • I Know, Pick me

      A pep rally for the football homecoming game.

      • Samantha

        I believe it Homecoming, Pep Rally, put on by the Alumni Association and not athletics, and that is what Zack was pointing out. Not an athletics event.

  • Rachel

    “But from a fiscal standpoint, the fact the ASUO funds $150,000 for an
    entity answering entirely to the Athletic Department is a big concern.”

    As a former band member, I am not sure where this statistic came from.

    • Brudin

      The number? It’s in the ASUO budget

      • Brian

        No. The part about answering entirely to the Athletic Department. We answer to the School of Music just like any other performing group

  • Student

    Another point, the ASUO budget is limited in how much its allowed to increase each year, by placing the band under the athletic department, there are less rules regarding the funding of the band.

    Many of the other bands specefically the four bands from the schools we played in BCS games, are all funded by their insitution’s Athletic Department, and their budgets in comparison to are are not even competitive. Their band’s budget is far larger than ours and you can tell in their size, uniforms, etc…

    • Samantha

      Yes but you have to realize that the athletic department’s income is a lot more volatile than student fees. Also the student organization would have no “democratic” representation in budgeting (although I don’t know if this is truly what we could consider ASUO right now) what so ever if Athletics completely took over their funding. What if Athletics income from tickets sales decreases or their donors drop off a little? The band makes them no money and shouldn’t be completely funded by them either.

  • UOBandMom

    Wouldn’t it be nice IF the Athletic Dept. saw the band as the resource it is? It would also be equally nice if ASUO didn’t complain that it should be Athletics paying for it. It SHOULD be a lot of things, the students who participate SHOULD be appreciated more for their efforts as well. But it is what it is, and until you can find a way to make Athletics see the band as a resource, then their small budget shouldn’t be something to nitpick! I suggest you work on getting the well-funded Athletics Dept. to take over the band budget, and leave the students who work their butts off out of it! Lord knows they’re not doing all that work for the wonderful credits or addition to their resumes, they’re doing it because they love to do it. And EVERYONE, A.D. and ASUO should show them some respect.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kristy.sorensenackerman Kristy Sorensen Ackerman

    By the way….that photo was also taken in front of the tables set up for the asuo parent weekend…homecoming is not just about football.. I suggest that some of these younger students start educating themselves before making stupid statements. As an alum of the university I am disappointed in the current asuo and cannot believe that they would cut out funding for one of the largest student groups on campus that support athletic events along with many other events on campus. They work with the parent association, the alumni association, many different groups on campus and also help in the community. They also recruit students and always work with high school students to encourage them to come to the university. As I said…as an alum of the university I am very disappointed. Shame on you!

  • Frank

    The USC band’s budget is in the multiple millions of dollars per year. They drop about 750k on their bi-yearly trip to Notre Dame alone. Ultimately, you get what you put in. They obviously have fundraising resources that UO does not (and a much larger base budget) but the source of their power comes from enormous alumni support. If the UO band wants to be bigger and better they need to:

    1. Cut ties with the music department and work entirely under athletics. A marching band is not an orchestra. It’s not really about the music.

    2. Hire a director who understands the role of the band in the game-day experience (he should throw away most of the charts you play, there was a time and a place for the victory song from the Phantom Menace and it has passed) and can put on entertaining halftime shows.

    3. Be proactive and work over the millionaires who rain down gifts on the athletic department to provide real support beyond hideous dystopian uniforms.

    4. Never rely on funding that can be voted away by a student body that doesn’t care about you.

    P.S. Oregon band members, I’m sure you’d love to share with Mr. McCain the number of band members this season who were not University of Oregon students at all…

    • Frank

      Band supporters should be up in arms over this quote from the athletic department in another article:

      “In our view, the band department is part of the University,” Williford said. “In our minds, it’s not unlike chemistry or English.”

      How horribly wrong-headed. Marching band is only technically a class for which you receive a token two credits. Band is not about learning music for the members (even great marching bands play music middle schoolers could master), it’s about school spirit, entertaining the fans and building a rich tradition for the students and alumni. (P.P.S. if you’re still forcing certain music majors to do the band that’s another thing that has to stop)

      Frankly I find it so strange that people like Phil Knight have spent so much freaking money trying to turn Oregon athletics into something akin to Ohio State or USC, but when it comes to the band, something irreplaceable in the athletic tradition of these great programs, it’s shrugged off as ‘chemistry class.’

      • UO band fan

        USC’s band can barely manage to play two songs over and over. Stanford’s “band” looks like vagrants in Halloween costumes and can only manage to play one song. It could be worse.

    • Truman

      Actually, Frank, that’s where you’re wrong. In the Oregon Athletic Bands, it IS about the music. That’s why the Green Garter Band got top scores at the Reno Jazz Festival when they went in 2011. That’s also why the Oregon Marching Band sounds better than USC’s band. Everything the band does puts the music first.

      I agree, the uniforms aren’t great and need to change. Other bands might march more cleanly. But in my four years in the OMB, we outplayed virtually every other band we came into contact with, and the fans appreciated it.

      • Frank

        This is your problem, and you don’t even know it.

        Your audience is the 60,000 people in Autzen Stadium on gameday, and virtually none of them have ever heard of or could possibly care any less about the Reno Jazz Festival. One subset of that audience includes all the people who are about to strip you of $150,000 a year that you desperately need. You know who’s in the audience at the Reno Jazz Festival? Other band people! If I found out that money from student fees was going to send the band to Reno for competitions instead of the road football games that the band doesn’t attend, I’d be pulling funding too.

  • Samantha

    I’m surprised the ODE would just let McCain go back and “correct” his letter. He should issue a statement on his misconception of this information, rather than just have you guys go back and change what he said.