MISSOULA — Saturday’s Brawl of the Wild drew more than 27,000 fans to Washington-Grizzly Stadium, and an important part of the game-day atmosphere was the Grizzly marching band.
Despite playing on the pitch during the previous game and halftime, an internal email says the band was asked to play fewer songs during the game so that canned music could be played instead.
In an email sent Saturday night by UM band director Dr. Kevin Griggs to band members, Griggs said the athletic department had asked him not to play the fight song after each touchdown and that the stadium would play “Cotton-Eyed Joe ” instead.
“They think canned music excites the audience more and is more interesting than band music,” Griggs wrote. “You know I find that a ridiculous opinion and I will fight for you and the role you play in the games.”
This follows a decision made near the start of the season not to feature the Montana State University Marching Band in the Brawl of the Wild so that more tickets could be sold for the game.
MTN spoke with Griggs on Monday and when asked about the email, he said he was “working with the athletic department for a positive resolution.”
Griggs named Nic Hallisey of Griz athletics as the person who made the change, writing in the email:
“The person responsible for the insulting and dismissive attitude regarding our participation is Nick Hallisey – Associate AD (Marketing and Communications). GMB will continue to hold the upper hand and remain the professionals in this fight. There are many ways we can respond to that and I think more people need to know that they are now trying to shut us out of our own home games.”
But in a statement posted to X (official Twitter) Monday afternoon, UM athletics director Kent Haslam issued a statement and clarification regarding the timing of the UM marching band in Saturday’s Brawl of the Wild game. Below is his full statement.
The full text of the email is below:
“Great job today GMB! It was too loud in the stadium to pass on information I think you should know. I want to explain why we didn’t play as much as usual.
Last night around 1:30am I got a message from Athletics Marketing. They handle Griz Vision and PA, canned music, etc. They informed me that GMB will not be allowed to play when the team is on defense. They also indicated that they would cancel the fight song after a score during the game so they could play Cotton Eye Joe instead.
The short answer to that – and the answer we got from them when Dr. Smart went and confronted them at lunch – is that they think canned music is more crowd-pleasing and more interesting than band music . You know I find this a ridiculous opinion and will fight for you and the role you play in gaming. I didn’t want to tell you about it before the game because we had to be positive and professional in our approach. I didn’t want the whole gang to be as angry as I was all day. You should have had a great day watching the team dominate in the biggest game of the year!
I will continue to fight against this attitude and make sure you are properly represented as UM students and members of the Grizzly Marching Band. College sports aren’t canned music and selling stuff at every turn. We are the most important musical element in the stadium on match day and I will make sure Athletics remembers and acknowledges that. The person responsible for the insulting and ignoring attitude towards our participation is Nick Hallisey – Associate AD (Marketing and Communications). GMB will continue to hold the upper hand and remain the professionals in this fight. There are many ways we can respond to that and I think more people need to know that they are now trying to shut us out of our own home games.”
In a statement sent to MTN News on Monday afternoon, University of Montana spokesman Dave Koontz said there was some information in the email from the band’s director that was not factual.
“The Grizzlies Marching Band is essential to game days at Washington Grizzlies Stadium. In addition to their academic responsibilities, Grizzly Marching Band students invest hundreds of hours in the fall to liven up the atmosphere on game day. After the game, communication was made by a UM official to members of the band. That communication did not accurately reflect minor logistical changes made before Saturday’s game and included misleading information. Grizzly Athletics and the Grizzly Marching Band are working together to better coordinate their responsibilities to promote a positive game day atmosphere, and everyone at UM is eager to take the next steps as we collectively prepare for an extended playoff run.” – Dave Koontz , UM spokesman.