Florida A&M University Marching Band Suspended Following Death

Florida A&M Band – Law enforcement officials confirmed Tuesday they are investigating hazing as a factor in the death of Florida A&M drum major Robert Champion — a revelation that came hours after the university’s president pledged to take a hard look at the pernicious practice that has plagued the famed Marching 100 band for decades.

At a hastily called news conference, FAMU President James H. Ammons indefinitely suspended all performances of the band and other music department instrumental ensembles. He also announced the creation of an independent task force to determine any “unauthorized and questionable activities associated with the culture of the Marching 100.”

“The purpose of this review is not to establish culpability of individual band members in this particular case, but rather to determine whether there are patterns of behavior by the band — or members of it — that should be addressed on an institutional level,” said Ammons, who will name task force members in the coming days.

Champion was found throwing up and complaining that he could not breathe in the parking lot of the Rosen Plaza Hotel on International Drive after a game Saturday against Bethune-Cookman in Orlando.

FAMU Police Chief Calvin Ross said his agency is investigating at least two other possible hazing incidents from this semester. Band director Julian White confirmed that 30 band members recently were suspended in the wake of the allegations and did not perform Saturday. No details were provided because the incidents are still under investigation, officials said.

Florida A&M’s marching band performs before Super Bowl XLIV between the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints in February 2010.