ESPN/The Undefeated HBCU Band Rankings

Bethune-Cookman reigns again, while Fayetteville State surprises at No. 1

Marching Wildcats show why they are top Division I band

The Fayetteville (North Carolina) State Marching Bronco Xpress, on the strength of its performances in drill and design and musicality, came out atop the latest edition of the ESPN/The Undefeated Band Rankings.

Fayetteville State replaces the Miles College Purple Marching Machine, which had been the top Division II band for two straight rankings. The current version, the fourth installment for this season, covers Oct. 15 through the homecomings of Nov. 3. The Marching Bronco Xpress will put its pride on display this weekend when the football team plays Bowie State in the CIAA championship game in Salem, Virginia.

Bethune-Cookman remains in the top position in the Division I rankings by a wide margin. Tennessee State moves to No. 2, knocking North Carolina A&T to No. 3. The Marching Wildcats, based on their top ranking in the Division I auxiliary, drum major and drill and design categories, were the top band by a wide margin.

“We work hard on the smallest of details and set a standard of excellence for practice physically, musically and academically with energy and teamwork,” said Donovan Wells, director of bands at Bethune-Cookman. “We aggressively attack our weaknesses while standing on our strengths.

“We strive for a high level of consistency from one performance to the next. Not just having a great performance, but can you have a great performance every time? Lastly, I must motivate, agitate, lift you up or even tear you down to get the very best from everyone, including me, no exceptions.”

There are separate rankings for bands from NCAA Division I and Division II schools, which include the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC), Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) and Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) and independent schools, such as Tennessee State and Edward Waters College.

Bethune-Cookman University

Tennessee State University

North Carolina A&T University

Top 10 HBCU Division I Bands

Overall Rank Drum Major Drill Design Musicality Percussion Auxiliary
1. Bethune-Cookman 1. 1. 2. 2. 1.
2. +5 Tennessee State 5. 5. 1. 5. 3.
3. -1 North Carolina A&T 9. 3. 3. 4. 2.
4. -1 Jackson State 2. 4. 6. 9. 4.
5. Morgan State 7. 7. 10. 1. 10.
6. Prairie View A&M 13. 9. 4. 8. 13.
7. -2 Southern 3. 2. 12. 10. 15.
8. -4 Norfolk State 16. 21. 5. 3. 17.
9. North Carolina Central 20. 19. 8. 7. 14.
10. South Carolina State 15. 13. 15. 11. 7.

Drum Major

  1. Bethune-Cookman
  2. Jackson State
  3. Southern
  4. Howard
  5. Tennessee State

Drill and Design

  1. Bethune-Cookman
  2. Southern
  3. North Carolina A&T
  4. Jackson State
  5. Tennessee State

Musicality

  1. Tennessee State
  2. Bethune-Cookman
  3. North Carolina A&T
  4. Prairie View A&M
  5. Norfolk State

Percussion

  1. Morgan State
  2. Bethune-Cookman
  3. Norfolk State
  4. North Carolina A&T
  5. Tennessee State

Auxiliaries

  1. Bethune-Cookman
  2. North Carolina A&T
  3. Tennessee State
  4. Jackson State
  5. Savannah State

Fayetteville State University

Virginia State University

Elizabeth City State

Top 10 HBCU Division II Bands

Overall Rank Drum Major Drill Design Musicality Percussion Auxiliary
1. Fayetteville State 7. 1. 1. 2. 4.
2. Virginia State 1. 9. 2. 7. 5.
3. -2 Miles 5. 6. 3. 3. 17.
4. Edward Waters 6. 2. 7. 4. 10.
5. -1 Elizabeth City 3. 7. 8. 5. 9.
6. +4 Winston-Salem 12. 10. 6. 8. 8.
7. Tuskegee 16. 8. 5. 6. 14.
8. -2 Benedict 9. 22. 4. 1. 22.
9. -2 Morehouse 2. 14. 11. 11. 1.
10. -7 Talladega 10. 11. 10. 16. 3.

Drum Major

  1. Virginia State
  2. Morehouse
  3. Elizabeth City State
  4. Fort Valley State
  5. Miles

Drill and Design

  1. Fayetteville State
  2. Edward Waters
  3. Fort Valley State
  4. Kentucky State
  5. Langston

Musicality

  1. Fayetteville State
  2. Virginia State
  3. Miles
  4. Benedict
  5. Tuskegee

Percussion

  1. Benedict
  2. Fayetteville State
  3. Miles
  4. Edward Waters
  5. Elizabeth City State

Auxiliaries

  1. Morehouse
  2. Clark Atlanta
  3. Talladega
  4. Fayatteville State
  5. Virginia State

Band judging criteria

Drum Major: Conducting, baton carriage, utilization of space, marching technique, accuracy and definition, style, and discipline.

Drill and Design: Intervals and spacing; creativity; marching style; precision in timing, definition of patterns, showmanship, instrument carriage and showmanship.

Musicality: Tone, intonation, balance, technique, consistency of style, interpretation and musical effect.

Percussion: Rudimental excellence, general appearance, showmanship, technique/stick control, drill execution, style consistency and discipline.

Auxiliaries: Dance/flag routine, baton/flag carriage, utilization of space, marching/strut technique, uniform, style and more.