Morgan Harris | Staff Writer
Dr. Thomas L. Jones Jr., Director of Bands at Hampton University, arrived at Audi Field with The Marching Force expecting a friendly battle with Howard’s band as part of the first annual “Truth and Service Classic.”
To his dismay, it was the complete opposite.
“Many of our students were left standing in the concourse for 20 to 30 minutes, with many being left in the sun for 20 to 30 minutes after performing the halftime show,” Jones said.
Touchdown after touchdown, Hampton racked up points on the scoreboard in a 48-32 victory. But there was no band to sing the celebratory praise at the end of each touchdown. In addition, Jones shared that the team was not provided access to water or ice during the game.
Howard University was responsible for providing proper seating accommodations to Hampton’s Marching Force as the host school. They assigned Hampton’s band to be seated in a standing-room-only section with a railing that restricted movement for the majority of the band’s auxiliary and instrumental sections, according to Jones.
Howard’s Showtime Marching Band was seated in a section on the opposite side of the stadium, leaving many, such as TV One journalist Roland Martin, with the impression that Hampton’s band was a no-show. He made jabs at Hampton on social media, confusing fans.
He posted a side-by-side picture of an empty section and Howard’s band section.
“Unless the @_hamptonu band is gonna march in as a surprise, there won’t be a halftime battle of the bands. Folks here are greatly disappointed there won’t be a battle with @howard1867. What’s up with that, Hampton?! This is the big game!!!” Martin captioned the photo.
Hampton’s band staff said that they did not know their seating arrangements would be in the standing-room-only area of the stadium.
“Our staff was largely left out of the logistics planning, and several representatives from Howard and their band conducted a walk-through of the facilities prior to the game,” Jones said.
The band had no other option but to seek other seating arrangements.
“Despite our challenges, our Pirate fans were gracious enough to move to a different section to allow our band to be seated in an adequate location,” Jones said.
The band members said the situation was unprofessional, and the issue could have been easily avoided with better communication from both parties.
“It could’ve been better organized, and Howard should take responsibility since they were the hosts,”said Sahara Chapman, a member of Hampton’s Marching Force. “Even if the circumstances had changed, they should’ve notified us so we could’ve been better prepared.”
To clear the air, Jones penned one final message to spectators.
“The lack of adequate seating set off a chain of events that left us in a challenging situation,” he said. “However, once the seating issue was resolved, we were successfully able to tend to all other matters, thus ensuring a quality game-time experience for our fans during the time that we were there.”
The Hampton University Marching Force will next appear on the field October 2 at Armstrong Stadium for the Battle for the Bay with Norfolk State University.