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Spartan Legion Ranked No. 1 HBCU Band in the Nation

ESPN’s the Undefeated, “…the premier platform for exploring the intersections of race, sports and culture,” has ranked the Norfolk State University Spartan Legion Marching Band No. 1 in the Division I HBCU Band Rankings for 2021. Their announcement can be found at

Professor William Beathea, the band’s director, said “Thank you, ESPN and the Undefeated adjudicators for this terrific honor and acknowledgment. In addition, a big thank you to the NSU administration, staff, alumni, family and friends for their unwavering support.”

“Here at NSU, we challenge the students in musicianship, physical training and drill execution. We are very proud of their development thus far and willingness to continue to improve,” Beathea said. “Moreover, the standard of performance by our peers in the HBCU band world is very high, and it helps push us to thrive for performance excellence.”

It was the Legion’s first place scores in musicality and percussion that put them over the top as the rankings closed, but high rankings in Drum Major (4); Pictures, Drill and Percussion (5); and Auxiliary (6) helped ensure the win. The breakdown of scoring for each category is available in the Undefeated’s full online announcement referenced above. The “Pictures, Drill and Design” category includes video from three of the ranked Division I schools, including the Spartan Legion’s performance at home vs. South Carolina State, also available on YouTube at

The Kentucky State Thorobred Express was ranked No. 1 in the Division II HBCU Band Rankings.

“Every form of adjudication has some level of subjectivity, which always leaves room for discussion regarding which band is better,” said Don P. Roberts, executive consultant for The Undefeated HBCU Band Rankings. “What makes our band ranking so credible and well respected is that our template is designed to improve the total band performance.”

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