FAMU has suspended all band performances while the university investigates the circumstances of drum major Robert Champion’s death in Orlando amid allegations of hazing within the school’s famed marching band.
Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University President Dr. James Ammons announced today that FAMU is organizing an independent task force related to “unauthorized and questionable” activities within the 375-member marching band. The panel would try to “determine if there are patterns of inappropriate behavior within the culture of the band,” Ammons said. Hazing allegations have loomed over the investigation into Robert Champion’s death, who was pronounced dead Saturday night at an Orlando hospital following the “Marching 100” performance at the Florida Classic football game.
Friends told Orange County deputy sheriffs that they were with the 26-year-old aboard a parked charter bus in front of the Rosen Plaza hotel when he began to complain of shortness of breath and threw up. When emergency officials arrived about 9:46 p.m., Champion was unresponsive. Autopsy results have not been released. Ammons addressed rumors that Champion was hazed, saying the information had not been confirmed but was turned over to Sheriff’s Office investigators.
“We need to stop and give ourselves the opportunity to get the facts,” he said.
The Tallahassee school has received seven reports of hazing in the last decade. Two of those cases resulted in the arrests of three people, according to University spokeswoman Sharon Saunders. The other cases were not prosecuted or the victims refused to cooperate, she said.
“Hazing is illegal,” Ammons said, adding he is disappointed that the school is dealing with the issue and vowed to make sure “we end this practice.”
Ammons also announced the suspension of band performance and other ensembles under the direction of the school’s music department is “out of respect” for Champion’s family.
Article Referenced from Orlando Sintenal