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Return of Longhorn Band uncertain amid ‘The Eyes of Texas’ controversy

The band hasn’t performed yet this season and will not on Saturday due to a lack of “necessary instrumentation” thanks to the controversy surrounding “The Eyes of Texas.”

NCAA Football: Alamo Bowl-Utah vs Texas Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

Following two weeks of controversy after Texas Longhorns senior quarterback Sam Ehlinger sang “The Eyes of Texas” alone in the Cotton Bowl in the aftermath of the four-overtime loss to the Oklahoma Sooners, the administration made clear to players that they are expected to remain on the field with teammates for the alma mater.

So the post-game scene at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on Saturday against Baylor should look more familiar to fans.

It will not, however, include the Longhorn Band playing the song for the first time this season. According to a Wednesday report from The Daily Texan, an internal survey asking members whether they would participate revealed that while the band is “fairly evenly divided in opinion” overall the “necessary instrumentation” does not currently exist to perform it.

“Based on (survey responses), we do not have the necessary instrumentation, so we will not participate in Saturday’s game,” Longhorn Band director Scott Hanna said in a message obtained by the Texan.

It’s not clear whether the band will perform at football games this season.

Band members were previously told that by Douglas Dempster, the dean of the College of Fine Arts, that they were expected to play the song, so the recently survey was a surprise to the administration, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

President Jay Hartzell released a statement on Wednesday evening in response.

“The Eyes of Texas will be played this weekend as it has been throughout this season — and it will continue to be played at future games and events,” Hartzell wrote. “While we would love the band to be with our fans at all our games, we never planned for them to perform live this Saturday. We knew this summer that, as we make our campus a more welcoming place, we would face many hard conversations. I remain truly optimistic that we will find ways to join together around our song, which has been so positive for so many Longhorns over the past 120 years.”

Like previous games, the alma mater will play over the loudspeakers following its conclusion.