Florida A&M University’s Marching 100 band will stay sidelined indefinitely. FAMU President Dr. James Ammons told the FAMU Board of Trustees this morning that the band’s suspension will continue through the 2012-2013 school year.
The trustees met via teleconference. Their focus was last November’s hazing death of drum major Robert Champion and whether the suspension of band activities should be lifted.
Ammons said he was heavily influenced by the need to be respectful of Robert Champion’s family and other victims.
Eleven members of the band are charged with felonies related to Champion’s death. Two more are facing misdemeanor charges.
“A young man lost his life and others suffered serious injuries,” said Ammons. “The impact on the music staff is yet to be determined since there are other outstanding investigations ongoing that involve the band.” Band operations are under investigation for possible fraud by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Ammons said the band must be restructured, and there’s not enough time to do that before classes begin in the fall. At this time, the band and the music department are without directors.
The Board of Trustees meeting followed a wave of negative developments in the last week. Ammons sent a memo saying that nearly 25 percent of the students listed on the band roster last fall did not meet band eligibility requirements. All received cash payments to attend the Florida Classic football game in Orlando, where Champion was beaten to death while being hazed.
Suspended band director Dr. Julian White decided to retire rather seek reinstatement, and university system Chancellor Frank Brogan sent a letter to the trustees asking them not to reinstate the Marching 100 just yet.
After all the bad publicity, the number of students applying for admission to FAMU for the 2012-2013 school year is down, according to school officials. The drop follows two years of record high enrollment.
Administrators don’t seem to think the drop in applications is connected to Champion’s death or the suspension of the band.
William Hudson Jr., vice president for student affairs, told the Tallahassee Democrat the decline is likely due to new enrollment standards that were put in place last summer.
Regardless of the band’s status, Provost Larry Robinson said the university will continue to accommodate students looking for a degree in music.