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Entire band squeezes into Michigan Stadium

Andrew Thagard | Monday, September 15, 2003

The University of Michigan Athletic Department’s warnings that the number of Notre Dame band members allowed in Michigan Stadium would be limited never materialized Saturday. Members of the Marching Band were personally escorted inside the stadium by Michigan’s band without reaction from ushers, band officials said.

“We received eleventh hour assistance from the Michigan band,” said Ken Dye, director of University Bands. “Everybody got in, everybody performed. There were no problems.”

This result, however, came as a surprise. On Thursday, the band was notified by Notre Dame’s Athletic Department that limited space would force officials to cut 50 members from the sections.

The band staff sent out an e-mail to members asking for volunteers to sit out parts of the game, but said the entire band would perform during pre-game and post-game festivities and the half-time show.

By Friday, however, University of Michigan Deputy Athletic Director Sandy Barbour warned that Notre Dame’s plan of having band members enter the stadium for parts of the game might not be feasible, and the additional band members would not be allowed in the stadium at any time, according to an e-mail from Lane Weaver, assistant band director.

The band obtained the required number of volunteers, but everyone, including security and support staff, was able to enter the stadium.

“There was a contingency plan had they asked us when we were entering the stadium,” said Jeff Serpas, drum major. “No one told us anything when we got there. There was nobody there counting heads.”

Dye attributed the outcome to hospitality on the part of Michigan band members and Notre Dame’s reputation of being courteous.

“Notre Dame people have a way of being very polite and not getting in anyone’s way,” he said. “We’re very careful when we go places.”

On Saturday, Michigan’s “Big House” set an NCAA attendance record with 111,726 people in the stands.

“I guess we helped them set that attendance record,” Dye said.