FAMU warned of hazing days before drum major's death
July 6, 2012
Three days before a drum major from DeKalb County was fatally beaten aboard a bus at the Florida Classic football game, Florida A&M University's top administrators knew about recent hazing incidents and a police chief called for the Marching 100 band to be barred from playing at the game, a Tallahassee newspaper reported Friday.
Robert Champion, a graduate of a Southwest DeKalb High School, was beaten aboard a bus in Orlando on Nov. 19. His death and other alleged hazing incidents have left the nationally recognized FAMU marching band with a tarnished reputation and an uncertain future.
Some band members have said that Champion, 26, died after participating in hazing ritual called "crossing bus C," in which band members are beaten as they walk the length of the bus.
The latest revelation in a case that has 13 band members facing charges --11, with felony hazing — emerged from notes from FAMU Dean of Students Henry L. Kirby that were sent to Board of Trustee members late Thursday, the Tallahassee News-Democrat reported.
The notes document a Nov. 16 meeting between Provost Cynthia Hughes-Harris, Vice President of Student Affairs William Hudson Jr. and retired band director Julian White.
During the meeting, university Police Chief Calvin Ross recommended the band be suspended and forbidden from playing in Orlando because of reported hazing.
Kirby said that White indicated he did not think the entire band should be suspended. Kirby said he recommended a suspension similar to that imposed for hazing on the university's chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi in 2006.
Kirby did not mention if FAMU President James H. Ammons was present at the November meeting, nor did he confirm if the president knew of the meting. Ammons has said he was unaware that hazing was a serious problem on campus. He suspended the band in November and last month announced the group would be off the field for the coming school year as well.
In an interview in May, Champion's family told the AJC the Marching 100 should be disbanded
— Staff members Bo Emerson and Ernie Suggs and The Associated Press contributed to this article.