NORMAN, Okla. — The Pride of Oklahoma is at the center of a continuing controversy. Grumblings persist among many OU band members.
Despite meetings with President Boren, band members, past and present, continue to gripe about the pride’s leadership.
Members say there is more to this than just changes to tradition. It’s all about what they think current members are going to miss out on under new director Justin Stolarik.
Members of the pride of Oklahoma are tired of hearing the disappointment from fans.
Tuba player Michael Boyd says, “I know it’s not because of the students. It’s because of the teacher.”
We stopped by Dr. Justin Stolarik’s office to ask him how he thought his first season was going. He didn’t want to go on camera but told me things are looking up and everyone is looking forward to their performance at Notre Dame.
Some of his tuba players disagree. They recently went on strike, skipping practice because they say their issues go deeper than changing tradition.
“We are not learning from Dr. Stolarik,” says Boyd. “We are being taught nothing.”
Former drum major Clint Williams played under former Pride director Gene Thrailkill. Members claim Thrailkill has been very open about his disappointment in the hiring of Stolarik.
Today Thrailkill told us Tthe students and their welfare is of the utmost importance. The emphasis should be placed on those who are most impacted by this situation.”
Williams doesn’t feel like the students will benefit from their time under doctor Stolarik.
He’s up for the change and innovation the hiring committee was looking for, but he hasn’t seen it from Stolarik.
Williams says, “If that’s what they were going for, they did not get it.”
He and current members say they just want the old Pride back.
Williams says, “The first place we need to start is making sure the administration takes action in one way or another.”
“I think it will slowly make baby steps,” says Boyd. “But it will never reach the point we were in past years.”
President Boren continues to express his confidence in Stolarik, saying “Change is always difficult for some people to accept,” and “It is sooner tradition that we give a warm welcome to new members of the university family.”