NORMAN, Okla. – Big changes to The Pride of Oklahoma marching band at the University of Oklahoma.
The director of the Pride of Oklahoma for the past two years, Justin Stolarik, today announced that he is stepping down as director of the University of Oklahoma’s marching band, effective immediately.
“I have accepted the decision of Director Stolarik to step aside in order to unify the Pride and maintain its tradition of being one of the greatest bands in America,” said OU President David L. Boren. “He has worked hard during his time at OU,” Boren said.
Here is a statement from Stolarik:
“I care deeply about the Pride and applaud the tremendous effort of our students. I always wanted them to have a good experience and be exposed to new ideas. The support of my colleagues here and around the country has been gratifying. Expressions of appreciation from students have also been encouraging. I’m committed to doing everything I can to help unify the band and encourage the students’ success,” Stolarik said.
So that the Pride can immediately resume preparations for its upcoming performances, President Boren invited OU alumnus Brian Britt, who successfully led the Pride of Oklahoma for 12 years, to return to the University. Britt brought national recognition to the Pride during his previous service.
Boren said that Britt will begin work at OU today, meeting with members of the Pride at their rehearsal this afternoon.
Band members say they are exited to begin rebuilding their program with Britt and are confident the band will regain their traditions in no time.
Last week, a full-page newspaper ad criticizing the director was published in three newspapers Friday.
“We are tired of being embarrassed. We are tired of mediocrity. We are tired of poor leadership. But most of all, we are tired of being ignored,” according to the letter.
OU President David Boren said the marching band members are free to speak their minds about the Pride of Oklahoma.
The students criticized Stolarik's style, themes, policies, and show selections.
Alumni and current band members have been vocal about the new shows and drills, saying they're old-fashioned.
A Facebook group and a website to support removing Stolarik have surfaced.