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Herd of Thunder wants uniforms with new logo

With new buildings rising around USF and eye-catching athletic apparel making USF more visible, the Herd of Thunder marching band is lagging behind.

When USF adopted the sporty U-shaped logo in fall 2003 and attracted attention to the school by joining the Big East conference, sports teams purchased new uniforms while the band was left with old uniforms.

Though USF officials promised the Herd of Thunder new uniforms for fall 2005, the band may have to wait another year because the school lacks money to buy the $300-apiece uniforms.

But this may be more than just a money issue. According to Wade Weast, director of the School of Music, there are not enough uniforms to accommodate the band’s growing size. He said the band has about 180 members, but that number could be more than 200 by fall 2006.

“The University is very supportive of the marching band,” Weast said. “(Uniforms) are a large endeavor, and we’re trying to figure out the best way to fund it.”

Vice Provost Ralph Wilcox took on the responsibility of finding a more feasible way to finance the band’s entire budget, which tops $500,000 for this year.

He said USF President Judy Genshaft, Provost Renu Khator, Wilcox and other officials met on June 15, 2005, to agree on a five-year budget outlook that would fund things such as uniforms, travel expenses and salaries.

“As we entered the Big East, we assured USF that we’d have a marching band that (the school) could be proud of,” Wilcox said.

The officials who met in June decided the best way to support the $507,395 budget for the 2005-06 school year would be to get participation from the band, Student Government, the president and provost offices, intercollegiate athletics, the USF Foundation and fundraising.

The budget breakdown indicated the following: The band would contribute 1.9 percent; SG 8.8 percent; president and provost 60.5 percent; intercollegiate athletics 16.1 percent; the USF Foundation 7.8 percent and fundraising 4.5 percent.

As of Monday afternoon, department officials were unable to pinpoint who’s responsible for the lack of funding for the new band uniforms.

“That was a noble part of the University to create a five-year plan,” Weast said. “A five-year budget was laid, and I don’t think (USF) fully adopted that budget.”

However, “a five-year budget committee approved (the plan). All stakeholder groups were represented, and they worked a long time on this,” Wilcox said.

According to Wilcox, the provost’s office – which is already contributing 60 percent for the year – can’t contribute any more funds to the marching band.

“The reason being is the primary and core mission (of the provost’s office) is to serve the academic needs of students and faculty at USF,” Wilcox said. “So if we were to take funds away, students and faculty would start to see diminishing in classes, activities, etc.”

Wilcox said the other organizations have not contributed their share of money for the band.

But Weast defended the band. Of the $10,000 or the 1.9 percent the band was supposed to contribute, he said the band has about $7,000 on hand.

Though Weast is confident the band is contributing its portion, he said there’s no need to point the blame at anyone.

“We need to come up with a funding model that’s more accurate and more implementable,” he said. As far as uniforms, “We’ll get there. It’s just a matter of time.”

According to Weast and SG officials, the necessary funds for the new Herd of Thunder uniforms may come through fundraising and outside donations that haven’t been specified.

But as officials ponder how to obtain money for new uniforms, band members such as Jeff Mason don’t understand what’s taking so long.

Having been a member of the band for three years, he said this situation has bothered him as well as other students in the band. The entire school should support the band the way they support the football and baseball teams, he said.

“If you were to raise everyone’s tuition by $2, you could have all the uniforms paid for,” Mason said. “We were told we were getting something, and it sucks that this has happened.”