Members of the biggest college band in the South say a gameday tradition is under threat.
UT's Pride of the Southland band claims it is being mistreated by officials in the athletics department on a wide array of issues. The band's drum major, Jessica Henderson, even went as far to create a petition in support of her fellow musicians. As of 6 pm, it had already collected more than 7,000 signatures.
"Honestly, lately, it seems they [UT's athletic department] care too much about marketing," she said.
The band is worried about two issues: travel and marketing.
UT Bands Director Gary Sousa said UT's athletic department canceled its trips to the Oregon and Missouri games and plans to reduce the amount of members who will get to go to Kentucky.
He said the band first started missing games when Dave Hart was named UT's athletic director in 2011.
"The band always traveled to every game, no matter where you went in this country, Sousa said.
Band members have also been critical of UT's marketing strategy during games.
The band said both the SEC and UT have reduced its playing time during games with the addition of more pre-recorded music.
"What is happening is that for next year, the SEC has voted that they can basically play this music, this prerecorded canned music, all the time during the game and if that's true the band won't play a note," Sousa said. "They'll go down in the stands, they'll open the 'T' and sit."
UT fired back Wednesday evening.
More Information: 'Pride of the Southland Band' Petition
School officials said many of the claims brought forward by the band were false. It said the band will still be able to play its music in between plays to the point where the center is over the football.
"The modification next year [to SEC rules] is that recorded music may be played instead of band music during those times," according to a University of Tennessee statement.
UT officials admitted the school stopped the band from going to Oregon and Missouri. However, they said did so because of the school's financial situation.
The university said the band's claims about its budget being dramatically slashed were not true.
"The budget for the band's travel was cut less than one percent and I'm sure as you recall last year, the athletic department, their overall budget was cut ten percent," said Margie Nichols, UT's vice-chancellor for communications.
UT also said rumors that the school's official fight song "Down the Field" would no longer be played during games were also false.