SWAC band rules explained

As the World Famed Tiger Marching Band prepare their top hats, shine their instruments and clean their white shoes, they remind Grambling fans of the football rules pertaining to the band.  

Dr. Larry Pannell, marching band’s director, urges the Grambling community to become educated on the Southwestern Athletic Conference rulings for the band and cheerleaders. 

“We have the rules handed down by the SWAC office that details when we can play and when we can’t play,” said Pannell.  “We can be on the field and if we don’t do it correctly, we are fined.” 

According to the official document from Grambling’s athletic department, it states the band shall not play music at football games once the offensive team is set, or while the quarterback is calling signals.

When an offensive team breaks the ‘huddle’ and approaches the line of scrimmage, the band cease playing.

Pannell describes this window as “about twenty-four seconds, but they don’t stay in the huddle that long, maybe ten seconds.” 

This doesn’t give his band enough time to complete a verse, so they must decide whether to play at all.  

“We can start a song, but we must stop as soon as the huddle breaks,” said Pannell

The band is not allowed to use drum rolls or beats, cymbal clashing, horn sounds or any other kind of musical instruments while the ball is in play. 

The consequences for playing violations increase significantly after each violation:

ν First offense results in public reprimand 

ν Second offense results in public reprimand and suspension from performing during the next SWAC contest and/or a fine determined by the Commissioner

Third offense results in suspension from performing for the remainder of the season 


Pannell describes these penalties are decided during a conference call the following Monday after the game. The conference call includes Pannell, President Frank Pogue, the opposing team’s band director and university president, and the SWAC commissioner, Duer Sharp. 


“Fans do not get to hear the threats made to the band directors about not following the rules,” said the former member of the World-Fame Tiger Marching Band. 


According to Pannell, the SWAC office can distribute fines up to $5,000. The Gramblinite could not find documentation of recent band penalizations but many members of the band remember incidents where the football team was penalized for the band playing at inappropriate times.    


“The Southwestern Athletic Conference recognizes it’s member institution’s band as an important part of the game-day experience,” said Sharp in an email. “Upon acknowledging the band’s participation and fan support, guidelines and bylaws were established so that everyone in attendance may enjoy the bands and the competition on the field.”