Just hours after BCU beat FAMU 26 to 16 in front of 60,218 at the Florida Citrus bowl, a FAMU student was found dead aboard a bus parked in front of a hotel on International Drive Saturday night.
Today Florida A&M University President James Ammons has suspended all practices and performances of the school’s famed Marching 100 band until investigators can determine what led to a member’s death over the weekend.
That includes suspension of the Marching “100″ indefinitely. Folks that is nearly “400 band members”
“Out of respect to Robert Champion’s family and in the best interest of the University, I have decided to suspend any and all performances and engagements for bands in the auspices of the music department including the Marching “100”,” Ammons said. “This suspension will be effective immediately”.
Ammons says the suspension will be at least for the duration of the law enforcement investigation.
Champion was found unresponsive on a bus parked in front of a hotel Saturday night after a football game. He was vomiting and had complained he couldn’t breathe before he collapsed.
“The investigation indicates that hazing was involved in the events that occurred prior to the 911 call for assistance,” Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said Tuesday.
FAMU Students (former and current) tell BMS Champion messed up his routine during the Battle of the Bands and his fellow band mates took action.
The cause of death in inconclusive and more tests are underway.
The task force will exam whether there have been ongoing inappropriate band customs or traditions. The school has had problems with hazing in the past.
Ammons said the school will cooperate with Orange County deputies who are investigating the death.
“Point is to determine if there are patterns of behavior of the band or members of the band that should be addressed at the institutional level,” Ammons said.
He also asked those who know anything about Champion’s death to help with the investigation.
“There will be consequences for those who impede law enforcement investigation,” Ammons said.
A memorial for Robert Champion was held Tuesday night on the FAMU campus for the music major from Atlanta.
“Any death that occurs as the result of hazing is a 3rd degree felony and anyone who participates in such events can be criminally charged, ” says Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings.
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.”
Saunders said the school has anti-hazing policy that all students sign to participate in any University-sponsored activities.
Band director Dr. Julian White said he has dismissed at least 30 band members recently because of possible hazing incidents.
If you did not watch HBO’s special on bands and hazing – check it out here – it will make you sit back and say WOW!