Commit a crime. Pay the fine.

 During homecoming, the Marching “100’s” halftime performance exceeded a generous 25-minute allotment and was subsequently fined $5,000 by the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. 

Since then, university professor and Leon County Commissioner William “Bill” Proctor, along with Rep. Alan Williams (D-Tallahassee), launched a campaign to help the band pay off the small fine. 

Keep in mind, this isn’t the first time the band has been cited for its overzealous performances. 

Just three homecomings ago, an extra-long performance by the band caused a scuffle between fans and the North Carolina A&T football team, who walked between the ensemble during its famous exit. 

Two years before that, another drawn-out show during a football game caused a shameful melee between the opposing team and band members. Of course, incidents like these aren’t exclusive to our band.  And these occurrences are likely why the MEAC has preventative rules in place. 

According to conference rules, “bands and other halftime activities that contribute to exceeding the allotted  halftime performance times will be penalized as follows: 1st offense – $5,000; 2nd offense $10,000; and 3rd offense – Loss of half-time performance privileges for remainder of season.”

So, there is no question as to whether Julian White, the band’s director, and his staff were fully aware of MEAC regulations or the length of the band’s show. 

No matter how trivial the imposed fee may seem, rules were broken; someone must pay. 

But exactly who should pay? Certainly not the university community via the FAMU Foundation, as Proctor and Williams have advocated in local media and at this past Saturday’s football contest. 

Their campaign speaks volumes about where the university’s priorities lie.   This is because $5,000 could be used for purposes more substantial than an admittedly long halftime show. Like supplementing the $1.5 million set aside for the proposed dentistry program; or the new online degree program scheduled to begin next year; perhaps ridding our existing dormitories of mold or the construction of new housing. The list is infinite.

The university community has already gone out of its way to send the band on a lavish week long excursion to President Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009. 

To front the band thousands more for something White admitted was his fault demonstrates how ridiculous the primary concerns of the university’s leaders and supporters are, especially as the university’s infrastructure and academic programs still lack essential resources.