Unlike Colgate, which denied its band a chance to play at the NCAA tournament, Michigan State will send musicians to the Final Four in Minneapolis. But there's no room on the plane for the Spartan band, which along with the MSU cheer squad will travel the 636 miles by bus.
The university released a somewhat awkwardly worded statement Wednesday regarding the fact that the band would not be on the team's chartered plane.
"It is the practice for the Spartan Brass band to attend all post-season basketball tournament play to support the men’s basketball team and fans," the statement reads. "In the case of the NCAA Final Four games in Minneapolis, the 43 members of the band and cheer travel parties will travel by bus due chiefly to the increased need for athletic department and basketball program staffing needs due to the magnitude of the event."
According to WILX in East Lansing, Matt Larson, MSU associate athletic director for communications, further explained. "In general, the further a team goes in NCAA Tournament play, the greater the personnel needs are to staff and support the team’s appearance, especially during the Final Four," Larson said.
The university says the number of trustees on the Final Four charter will be no larger than had traveled with the team during the tournament's first two rounds. Requests by The Detroit News for a complete travel party listing have been denied, the paper reports. According to the News, the band and the cheer team were on the MSU's chartered flights for the previous two stops in the NCAA Tournament — in Des Moines, Iowa, and Washington, D.C.
Whatever consolation it may provide, the athletic department is footing the bill for the chartered bus.
Social media buzz indicated that the band was not pleased after getting bumped, but director David Thornton appears more than happy to buckle up for the long haul. "We are excited about the opportunity to support the team and go to the Final Four," Thornton said, as reported by WILX. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for these students, and they are thrilled to be able to participate."