What would college football half-time shows be without a marching band?
That’s what Wolfpack fans at the University of Nevada-Reno are wondering.
The school is cutting costs to deal with a budget deficit…and next year the marching band may not have enough money to perform.
(sound of band marching)
On a recent afternoon, I went to Reno to see the marching band practice on a fake turf field next to MacKay Football Stadium…
(Music up and under)
About 130 musicians and color guard members are in the UNR marching band.
Some of the performers depend on band scholarships. They’re concerned about their future if the band gets the axe…
(UNR Band Members speak about the cuts)
UNR students are organizing bake sales, car washes, concerts…whatever it takes to keep the band alive.
Allen Sullivan has been the marching band director since 1993.
He’s helping to raise money…but he’s not so sure the band will be able to survive next year…without university funding…
“I’m devastated. You know, being here so long and I’m not sure what I’m going to do personally after June 30th. I’ll get my resume together and everything so that I can get out and start beating the streets for a job…”
In order for the band program to continue…it needs to raise about a quarter million dollars in donations from the community.
For their part, the band is trying to keep costs down…it doesn’t travel much anymore. In fact, it only plays at home games in Reno.
UNR president Milton Glick says he’s a band supporter…but he had to cut spending…
“We thought given all areas we had to protect, that funding the marching band was beyond our means…”
UNR is preparing a budget for 2009 that spends 20 to 30-million dollars less than in previous years.
Glick says he wants to avoid lay offs of UNR employees. He’s also trying to reduce spending without taking too much away from core education programs.
UNR is doing away with it’s equestrian program and axing funds for the school’s fire science academy near Elko.
But, Glick says it’s the marching band that’s getting the most attention from critics…
“There are some band alums who have been very very vocal and they’ve sent some strong emails…
A few weeks back, the mayor of Reno…Bob Cashell launched a community fundraising campaign. The goal is set up a permanent endowment…
“As we raise this money, I wanna make sure that we get an alumni association, approach the former band mates who had the luxury of a band scholarship while they were at UNR. They’re out working now…maybe for 20 years or more…and maybe they could send in 100 dollars a year and that will help do it…”
So Far, more than 50-thousand dollars has been given to UNR from private donors.
Tonight, (Friday 10.3) the UNR band…also known as “Pride of the Sierra” is holding a gala to raise money.
It’s happening at the Peppermill Casino ballroom in Reno, complete with dinner, a silent auction, and of course, music.
(natural sound of band up and under)
It’s still not clear whether UNR Wolfpack fans will be able to enjoy marching band performances at games next year.