Band's Potential Move Raises Aggie Ire

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A Big 12 ruling will likely make a big change to a Texas A&M football tradition.

Starting in 2007, all school bands must be seated outside the 25 yard lines. The change comes after concerns that the band could distract opposing teams.

When they aren't wowing audiences at Kyle with their pinpoint maneuvers on the field, the Aggie Band is on the sidelines at midfield behind the opposing team's bench.

"The Aggie Band works very hard.," said Bob Barker with the Aggie Band Association. "They've been around for over 100 years. As far as I know, most of that time, they've been seated at the 50 yard line. That's they've reward for the hard work they've put in."

But at the recent Big 12 media day, the decision was announced that all bands must be out from behind the bench by the start of the 2007 season.

Conference commissioner Kevin Weiberg at the time said, "We want our environments to be fun environments as they've traditionally been, and at the same time we have concern about the safety of participants as well as spectators."

The Big 12 asked that schools try to make the change for this coming season, but it's a move A&M can't comply with that quickly due to the make-up of the stands.

Diehard supporters like Barker, a former band member, don't understand the change.

"To arbitrarily make a rule that applies to every Big 12 school when we don't have a problem seems unnecessary," he said.

Barker points to the track that runs around the football pitch, saying those yards provide a buffer between the bench and the band. He vows that the band association and other fans will keep the band in the midst of the fans where he thinks they belong.

"I think they'll listen to it," Barker said. "If they get enough complaints from us and other schools that might be affected, I believe they'll work with us on it."

A spokesperson for the A&M athletic department says the school is actively looking at ways to keep the band at a proper and safe distance from the sidelines. University president Robert Gates is the Big 12's vice president, and is also looking into the matter.