Battle Of The Bands

Weeks after the Prairie View A&M marching band found itself in a halftime brawl with musicians from Southern University, band members now have their own football team to fear.

The football team recently ended an NCAA-record 80-game losing streak. But after the band violated its probation, the entire athletic department has been suspended by the Southwestern Athletic Conference. The team's remaining games have been canceled.

"Now that we we're finally able to win, we might not even be able to play," said freshman Candace Johnson of Richardson, whose family had planned to attend the Alcorn State game.

SWAC officials handed down the indefinite suspension Monday because the university allowed its band to perform at Saturday's Prairie View-Grambling game in Dallas.

That performance violated an earlier two-game suspension issued after the Prairie View band's halftime brawl.

The SWAC's latest sanctions bar any league school from playing Prairie View in any sport until further notice. Sports immediately affected are football, volleyball, track . . . even bowling.

The volleyball team is scheduled to begin play Friday at a tournament hosted by Southern. Five of Prairie View's six remaining football games are against SWAC teams, including Saturday's homecoming game against rival Alcorn State.

Prairie View has appealed the SWAC decision, according to Larry Raab, the school's vice president of operations.

"We feel the punishment is unjust, and we'll take all actions required to seek a just remedy," Raab said.

SWAC Commissioner Rudy Washington said the league had no choice but to impose a harsh penalty.

"We were extremely disappointed to see Prairie View A&M blatantly disregard the rules and regulations of the Southwestern Athletic Conference," Washington said.

The marching bands of Southern and Prairie View duked it out during a halftime melee Sept. 19 at Beaumont. Several Prairie View band members were injured, and both schools incurred damage to uniforms and instruments. Each school blamed the other for starting the fracus.

The SWAC immediately suspended both schools' bands for two football games. Prairie View's band sat out the Sept. 26 game at Langston—the school's first football victory since 1989—but played last Saturday at the Grambling game in Dallas.

Raab cited contractual obligations that could have cost the school $80,000 if the band hadn't shown up.

The Alcorn State game was scheduled to be the first home appearance for the Panthers (1-4, 0-3) since they ended the streak.

While the game is off, Raab said other homecoming activities would go on as planned.