UT band alumni members try to support band after controversy

UT band alumni members try to support band after controversy

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Brent Lackey played the tuba from 2001 to 2005 under Dr. Sousa. He plans to participate in this year's homecoming march. He feels it's an important event to attend to show support to the current band members. Brent Lackey played the tuba from 2001 to 2005 under Dr. Sousa. He plans to participate in this year's homecoming march. He feels it's an important event to attend to show support to the current band members.
"Just as you would support your family through any kinds of ups and downs, we want our alumni to be there to support our current students," said Annie Nassis. "Just as you would support your family through any kinds of ups and downs, we want our alumni to be there to support our current students," said Annie Nassis.

By STEPHANIE BEECKEN
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - University of Tennessee band alumni are voicing their opinions about the removal of long-time director of bands Dr. Gary Sousa and how they are trying to support current members.

Last week, Sousa went public with grievances between the band and UT athletics. The university announced Monday Sousa was being placed on administrative leave.

To show support, some members of the Pride of the Southland Alumni Association say they want this year's homecoming march to be even larger than years past. The group is hoping to have 500 members involved to show current band members their efforts are appreciated despite the current controversy between the university and the band director.

500 Strong is the campaign for this year's Pride of the Southland Band alumni march for homecoming.

Annie Nassis is on the Pride of the Southland Band Alumni Council. She's been helping promote the event.

"Just as you would support your family through any kinds of ups and downs, we want our alumni to be there to support our current students," said Nassis.

Brent Lackey played the tuba from 2001 to 2005 under Dr. Sousa. He plans to participate in this year's homecoming march. He feels it's an important event to attend to show support to the current band members.

"I would encourage the band to carry on form the Power T, open the T for the team to run through just like they would like any other Saturday in the fall," said Lackey.

"Despite everything that's going on, just carry on," said Lackey.

UT has placed Director of Bands Gary Sousa on administrative leave for the remainder of the semester.

UT officials say insubordination and a lack of confidence in Sousa's ability to work constructively and collaboratively with others are the reasons for the suspension.

In a letter from Dr. Sousa to Dr. Jimmy Cheek, Sousa asks the university to keep the athletic marketing in check and to reverse the policy reducing band travel. Nassis says the alumni council supports Sousa's efforts.

"We do stand by him. We know that he fights constantly to advocate for his students past, present and future," said Nassis.

Nassis says prerecorded music has its place, but the band needs play as much as possible and attend most away games.

"We are disappointed that the band is not present at more away games. We do want the band to have representation in the stadium and to be able to play in the stadium," said Nassis.

For more information on the UT alumni band homecoming march, go to the Office of Alumni Affairs and Development website.

The deadline to register is Sunday, October 27th.

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