On Tuesday, the American Athletic Conference (AAC) has passed a mandate regarding marching bands and spirit squads making the ACC the first conference to have sweeping guidelines for all schools. The guideline will be for the 2020 football season and came as a surprise to many Marching Band Directors, who will be sidelined for most of the season.
The guidelines create a difficult situation for band directors and cheerleading coaches, but prioritize safety over everything else:
1) No visiting team bands or spirit squads
2) No on-field performance for the home team’s band
3) No spirit squads on the field to start the season
4) Home team band and spirit squad limits to be re-evaluated as stadium restrictions are lifted (based on local and state directives)
This AAC (American Athletic Conference) ruling will affect the following universities: Memphis, Navy, SMU, Tulane, Houston, Tulsa, Cincinnati, UCF, Temple, USF, and East Carolina. Many of these college bands feature more than 250 band members and auxiliary units (flags, drill teams, dance teams, pom-pons). These guidelines will mean no bands will perform their traditional pregame, halftime, or post-game shows. While sitting in the stands the bands will also plan for social distancing guidelines and potentially smaller bands. For some schools, only a pep-band will perform depending on stadium size and college mandates.
Other conferences and individual colleges/universities will be announcing fall plans in the coming two to three weeks. The University of Connecticut Marching Band, which is no longer a member of the AAC, has already announced that they will not march this fall, adding them to the list of bands that we will not see perform at halftime this year.
“We are extremely disappointed but understand the decision,” said Jeff Weir, Director of the US Naval Academy Drum & Bugle Corps. ” I’m still holding out hope that the Naval Brigade will be present in the stands, and that we can support the game-day atmosphere, socially distanced in the seating area as a full corps pep band.”
There has been no official word from other conferences including the Big 10 and the Mid-American Conference (MAC) in regards to marching band and spirit teams.