January 30, 2008
Updated 01/27/2008 12:09:40 AM CST
Lamar President Jimmy Simmons joined the university in 1970, when he started as a music instructor and director of the marching band.
“If people are saying it’s still near and dear to my heart,” Simmons said, “well, more power to them.”
Simmons said if students pass this week’s referendum on adding an athletics fee to tuition, the university wouldn’t just look at reinstating football. It would also begin plans to reinstate a size-XL marching band.
Simmons said that at one time, with 375 members and only 350 uniforms, the marching band actually had a waiting list. He believes that could happen again.
“It’s the same with football players in our area,” Simmons said. “We don’t have football, so they have to leave the area and go someplace else. Well, we have outstanding music programs in our area, too. But you have many music majors who won’t come here now because they can’t play in a marching band.”
If Simmons is right, he sees the influx of more band members as part of a larger influx of students.
He has estimated the return of football could bump enrollment by as much as 2,000 - which would also increase the amount of money the state would reserve for Lamar’s academic side.
Simmons still remembers then-coach Vernon Glass paying visits to the band as it rehearsed on the football practice fields.
“He used to say he liked to watch us ’scrimmage,’” Simmons said. “He used to tell our kids how important we were to the team, and I think that connection between the band and the players was real.”
Simmons said money from the proposed athletic fee will go to athletics - not toward the marching band.
Funding for the band would come from another source, he said.
source: The Beaumont Enterprise