FAMU Band will remain suspended through 2012-2013
By BRANDON LARRABEE
THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA
THE CAPITAL, TALLAHASSEE, May 14, 2012.......Florida A&M's famous Marching 100 band will not take the field for another year, university president James Ammons announced Monday, as the fallout from a hazing death continues to roil the school.
Ammons said he had spoken with a wide cross-section of students, faculty, alumni and supporters of the school's athletics programs before deciding that sensitivity to the family of drum major Robert Champion, who died in an alleged band-related hazing, and the need for more time to come up with new policies for the band should carry the day.
"After thoughtful considering of all of the information, I have decided that the suspension of the band will continue through the 2012-13 academic year," Ammons told members of the school's board of trustees on a conference call.
The announcement came four days after Chancellor Frank Brogan urged FAMU to continue the suspension of the Marching 100 in the wake of Champion's death.
Champion, 26, was allegedly beaten to death in a ritual hazing on board a charter bus during a band trip to Orlando in November. The incident prompted university officials to suspend activities of the vaunted marching band while the investigation continued. Thirteen people have been charged in connection with the hazing.
Several probes of the band and hazing within it are still going on, including a university committee aimed at looking for ways to prevent hazing.
Ammons also said that a new set of guidelines would have to be put in place before the band could return. The new rules could deal with a broad range of subjects, from academics to practice time to travel policies.
"The band must be restructured," he told trustees.
Ammons said a plan set to be unveiled at a board meeting in June will lay out how the band can be brought back while keeping students safe.
Despite some questions about how continuing to sideline the band -- long seen as a highlight of FAMU football games and other sporting events -- might impact the university, board members seemed generally supportive.
"I know it's a hard pill to swallow, because we all love the Marching 100," said trustee Torey Alston.
FAMU is discussing other ways of entertaining fans at the two classics the football team takes part in each year -- the Atlanta Football Classic and the Florida Classic. The alleged hazing of Champion took place after the Florida Classic game between FAMU and Bethune Cookman.