Additional details on Pioneer Drum and Bugle Corps suspension

It is Drum Corps International’s commitment to continue to provide accurate and updated information on issues impacting the DCI Community, and we want to ensure that all material released to the public remains accurate and timely.

To maintain informational integrity, we are providing you with the same information we are sharing with members of the media later this afternoon.

Earlier today, we announced the suspension of the Pioneer organization that occurred last week. Since that time, DCI has submitted the following response to questions by the media and others who are concerned about Pioneer and other policy issues. Some have asked for clarification on the timelines of policy adoptions as well as details on other topics, so our response appears in its entirety below.

We will continue to provide the DCI Community with direct and accurate information.


Drum Corps International has been investigating concerns involving the Pioneer Drum and Bugle Corps for several months, but it is neither appropriate nor judicious to publicly discuss specific individuals or allegations prior to completion of the full investigation. Within those parameters, we are providing the following information in response to questions posed by DCI participants and members of the media.

In 2017, upon learning through social media that a registered sex offender might be serving on Pioneer’s staff, DCI contacted the corps’ leadership and recommended releasing the staff member in question. The DCI policies and guidelines in effect at the time stated that the corps leadership held responsibility for its decision to act on DCI’s recommendation. Ultimately, Pioneer decided to release the staff member.

The DCI Board of Directors’ adoption of a formal background check policy in May of 2017 involved multiple factors and did not result specifically from the issue at Pioneer.

To facilitate communications involving the whistle-blower policy adopted in January 2010, DCI added the online reporting form to the organization's website in June 2018.*

In response to specific questions involving the Pioneer Drum and Bugle Corps, the suspension from all DCI activities comes after many weeks of investigating questions of adherence to acceptable standards of health and safety for all participants, as documented in the DCI Community Code of Conduct and Ethics Guidelines adopted in May 2018.

Upon receiving the initial statements via DCI’s reporting mechanisms, both executive and board leadership presented Pioneer leadership with the information for examination and corrective action. Subsequent reports and new allegations that Pioneer leadership discouraged corps members and staff from reporting questionable incidents and circumstances prompted additional meetings with Pioneer leadership along with separate sessions with instructional staff members.

While balancing assurance of a safe environment with the strong desire to allow Pioneer’s performers to benefit from their hard work by completing their season, DCI leadership put a system of rigorous oversight in place for the remainder of the tour. Based on the information reported to DCI by Pioneer leadership and staff, the corps successfully made necessary improvements and were able to finish the year with their performance at the World Championship Prelims on August 9 in Indianapolis.

Since the end of the 2018 DCI season, DCI has received credible reports of new issues through its own reporting means as well as accusations on social media including possible retaliation against those who report issues of concern, leading to the August 16, 2018, decision to suspend Pioneer from all DCI activities.

Prior to adopting the new DCI Community Code of Conduct & Ethics Guidelines in May 2018, issues brought to DCI and framed as possible code of conduct violations concerned competitive behavior. The only official actions regarding health and safety-related violations are the Cadets probation and the Pioneer suspension. DCI stands firm in supporting those who come forward with information and will continue to investigate assertions and take appropriate action when warranted.

During the 2018 season, questions arose regarding medical care and how the standards differ from corps to corps.  At present, each corps is charged with addressing its members’ medical care. DCI actively supports both the Marching Music Health & Wellness Project and Athletes and the Arts – comprehensive initiatives giving corps the benefit of expert volunteers in the medical profession. Beginning in the 1990s, medical advisors provided corps with best practices through seminars, video education, and written materials. Through the years the concept has expanded exponentially to give corps more resources, better care, and a broader spectrum of specialties. 

DCI and its participating organizations are intensely reviewing the topic of medical care to determine what standards and guidelines should be in place to ensure that each corps has access to appropriate health care resources for all performers.

* Clarification on original whistle-blower adoption date and online form added August 23, 2018.