In about two weeks, college sports could change forever and the band world should pay very close attention. In June the Supreme Court will make a landmark decision on whether the NCAA must loosen its restriction on compensation to athletes. Just to give you an insight on what’s happening, collegiate athletes have been unofficial ambassadors for their universities. Their names were used in commercials, billboard advertisements, and all sorts of other things promoting ticket sales for their universities. While these athletes were heavily advertised, they never received a penny. If they did, then the team would be heavily penalized and the individual could loose his or her eligibility. So now the supreme court is looking to rectify the situation. Some states already stepped in and collegiate athletes in those areas could start getting paid for their likeness in July.

So what does this have to do with bands? Well… a lot. Showstyle bands are used in a lot of advertisements for Historically Black Colleges and Universities. In fact some schools recruit a lot, if not majority, of their students because of their band’s reputation. This doesn’t mean students coming to school are joining the band, but rather the atmosphere these bands create are playing a major factor in their decision. So, if we’re looking to change the tide with our student-athletes, who bring in majority of the money for some of these huge institutions, then we should be looking to do the same with our bands who bring in those same type of numbers for our HBCU’s.

Now let’s think about the smaller HBCUs. You could think it’s selfish to take money from an institution that’s already struggling to stay afloat because the band’s likeness or image was used to recruit students. But if we direct the money, bands are bringing to those programs, there’s a possibility it can offset everything. Meaning, if those funds are used to grow the band and increase its ability to travel, ultimately getting the name of the university out there, more students may enroll because of the atmosphere the band adds to campus. Now of course much more goes into those decisions like accreditation, academic programs, facilities and quality of faculty but it’s something to think about.

Our bands are bringing in millions to our beloved HBCU’s and now’s the time to raise the question, “when do they get a piece of that funding”? These programs are depending on alumni and outside performances for funding when a bulk of it could come from the university. Is this an issue? Maybe not quite yet, but once the conversation is out there it can quickly become one if proper discussions are not held. Bringing up this discussion is a great start. Maybe one day, band staff and leaders of our HBCUs can come together and have a conversation where a plan is created to compensate bands for their likeness/image.

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