Pep Band at NCAA Tournament Games

Prof. Kevin Champagne and the UAlbany Pep Band were part of the excitement as they played for basketball fans at both the men's and women's tournament games. Prof. Champagne has been leading the Pep Band as well as our University-Community Symphonic Band for over ten years now. And in the fall of 2013, he began leading our new Marching Great Danes Band. Recently, Prof. Champagne was kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to share some thoughts about the Pep Band's participation in March Madness:

“It was spring break, and lately that means the Pep Band gets to travel for the NCAA basketball tournament! For the third year in a row, both the men’s and women’s teams have made it to their tournaments! This year was different for the band though. In the past, we were able to make it to both tournaments, but this year, because both teams were playing the same day, we had to split the Pep Band into two Pep Bands. Fortunately, this year our Pep Band was bigger than ever, at about 55 musicians, so we were able to split and still have good numbers. The NCAA allows for a total of thirty for the Pep Band, so each of our two Pep Bands had about twenty five. A few students already had spring break plans and couldn't join us.

I took one Pep Band with me to the men’s tournament in Ohio, and the other Pep Band, led by Maureen Moore, former student and current marching band assistant, went to the women’s tournament in North Carolina. We had to leave on Wednesday, even though our game wasn’t until Friday. It is one company that sets up the travel for all the schools involved, so sometimes, you end up leaving unusually early, just so they can arrange for everyone. Before we even arrived in Ohio, I had arranged for the band to rehearse in one of the hotel’s meeting rooms. The band still had a lot of time to kill, so we all went bowling one day also. There was a mall near the hotel, so that also helped the students find something to do.

When the women’s game was on (Friday, March 20th at noon), my Pep Band all gathered in the hotel lobby/restaurant area and cheered on the women’s team and the other half of our Pep Band. Along with another dozen UAlbany employees, we cheered as loudly as if we were at the game, which is quite loud! A few hours later, it was our turn to perform. At the game, our band and the Oklahoma band took turns playing before the game started. After that, we took turns playing time outs. Soon after the game started, I was receiving picture texts of me and the band. We got some quality air time! Our band played well and cheered as fanatically as ever! Unfortunately, the men’s and women’s teams both lost.

The students all realize this is something special, and they all had a great time. While we know all the players, and we know that they appreciate us, this gives us a chance to mingle more with them, as well as the coaches. The players on both teams all seem to be great people. This is the sixth time in ten years that we have had the opportunity to travel with one or both of the teams like this. We are very lucky to be part of such a strong program. Both teams look good for next year, so we are hoping we get to do this again! Go Danes!”

Prof. Champagne can be reached at (518) 442-4192 or by e-mail at

Kevin Champagne and Pep Band