ESPN/The Undefeated HBCU Band Rankings

Bethune-Cookman takes No. 1 spot

The university takes top place in first ESPN/The Undefeated HBCU Band Rankings

What truly makes your alma mater’s band the top HBCU band in the land? Have you thought about your band’s conducting? Its utilization of space? Its marching technique? Accuracy and definition … style … discipline? These are just a few of the criteria that will be considered as part of the inaugural ESPN/The Undefeated HBCU Band Rankings.

The first rankings in this season’s ESPN/The Undefeated HBCU Band Rankings will identify the top bands from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC), the two Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) conferences.

The rankings, conducted by a nine-person panel of top band directors associated with historically black colleges and universities, will evaluate bands on musicality, drill and design, percussion, auxiliary corps, drum majors and other key factors. Each week, judges will review video content on a secure site to make recommendations for rankings.

The ESPN/The Undefeated HBCU Band Rankings will be posted at four times this season — on Oct. 12, Oct. 24, Nov. 7 and Dec. 5 — and weekly during the 2018 season. This year, MEAC and SWAC bands will be ranked. In 2018, all HBCU bands will be included in the rankings.

Why the band rankings, and why now? The purpose of these rankings is to recognize the top HBCU bands leading up to the “Band of the Year,” which will debut at the Celebration Bowl in 2018. Each band will also receive written and oral comments for each evaluation.

There are several bands that aren’t in the current rankings but are in the “on the rise” category. They are Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Alcorn State, Howard, North Carolina Central, South Carolina State, Savannah State, Delaware State, Hampton University and Mississippi Valley State.

Drum Major

  1. Jackson State
  2. Bethune-Cookman
  3. Southern
  4. North Carolina Central
  5. South Carolina State

Drill and Design

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


  1. Norfolk State
  2. Bethune-Cookman
  3. Florida A&M
  4. Alabama A&M
  5. University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff


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


  1. Alabama State
  2. North Carolina A&T
  3. Southern
  4. Jackson State
  5. Howard