CLEMSON — The band that shakes the Southland has a backup group like no other.

The Clemson University Tiger Band Association (CUTBA), comprised of former and current band members, supports the student musicians academically and in extracurricular ways. Once again the group has made its annual gift to the Clemson University Tiger Band Association Scholarship Award Program, this time with a $24,000 check to the endowment.

CUTBA members give $24,000 check to endowment

Clemson University Tiger Band Association members add $24,000 to their endowment. Pictured are (front left) Richard Goodstein, dean, College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities; Tom Waldrop, CUTBA president; Drew Bismack, Tiger Band member and CUTBA student board member; Brian O’Rourke; assistant vice president for university Advancement; and Mark Spede, Tiger Band director
(back left) Tony Stapleton, CUTBA founding member; Larry Sloan, CUTBA founder; 
LaRon Stewart, CUTBA board member; Walter Betsell, CUTBA board member
Image Credit: Mark Crammer / Clemson University

Established in 1987, the fund provides annual scholarship and award recognition to students in the Tiger Band.

Association president Tom Waldrop, a 1978 alumnus who was a tuba player in the Tiger Band for six years, said the organization has high hopes for the endowment, which to date has received more than $800,000 from CUTBA.

“Every year, our major focus is adding money to the endowment,” he said, adding that their long-term goal has always been to provide as many scholarships as possible.

To do that, the association regularly reaches out to the 3,500 Tiger Band alumni who make up its membership.

“By far, the majority of the money we receive is from donations from former band members,” Waldrop said.

CUTBA uses the money to support Tiger Band members primarily with scholarships, but in other ways as well.

“For instance,” Waldrop said, “we feed them breakfast when they have a noon game, because they don’t have time between morning practice and the game to go have breakfast. We have two of those scheduled already this year. That’s a lot of fun and a lot of work and these young adults appreciate it. We really enjoy doing things like that.”

They also provide fourth-year members with Tiger Band watches, which have become treasured mementoes for outgoing seniors. Last year, CUTBA created academic regalia for the band students to wear during graduation ceremonies.

Founding Tiger Band Association member Larry Sloan, a 1974 graduate who played trumpet five years and was the Tiger Band commander his senior year, expressed the pride band alumni have for the current members.

Tiger Band members gather on their practice field to watch Dr. Mark Spede receive a check from CUTBA.

Current members of the Clemson University Tiger Band watch as the Tiger Band Alumni Association presents a check for $24,000 that will be added to their scholarship award program, which provides annual scholarship and award recognition to students participating in the Tiger Band. Image Credit: Ken Scar / Clemson University

“They just get smarter and smarter every year,” he said. “I am so impressed with their academics — and we stress academics even more than we stress music and marching. Academics is No. 1.”

Clemson’s assistant director of bands, Tim Hurlburt, underscored the important role of the association.

“CUTBA has a vital role in the Tiger Band organization, and all the university bands for that matter,” he said. “They do great work raising scholarship money for our kids, which is a great recruiting advantage. We’re up to 340 this year — which is the largest band we’ve ever had — and CUTBA is right there to support everything we need.”

The endowment gift is part of Clemson’s The Will to Lead capital campaign to raise $1 billion to support Clemson students and faculty with scholarships, professorships, facilities, technology and enhanced opportunities for learning and research.