Florida A&M University President James Ammons has announced that the school’s famed marching band is being suspended for at least one more school year as officials continue to address the hazing culture that led to the death of drum major Robert Champion.
Ammons said FAMU’s Marching 100 should be suspended at least until a new band director is hired and new rules for the band have been implemented.
Eleven FAMU band members face felony charges as a result of the November hazing death of Champion, a graduate of Southwest DeKalb High School. Two others face misdemeanor charges. Band director Julian White recently retired after it was discovered that at least 100 band members were not students when Champion died.
The Marching 100 is one of the most talented, well-known bands in the country, having performed at Super Bowls and in inauguration parades, including President Obama’s 2008 inauguration.
FAMU plays in the Atlanta Football Classic every year, and the game’s halftime battle of the bands is what a lot of fans come out to see. It’s unclear how the suspension will affect this year’s game.
Florida authorities are also investigating the band’s finances, while the Champion family has already told FAMU they plan to sue the university.
FAMU has already implemented some changes since Champion’s death, including a new regulation requiring those attending, visiting or working at the school to tell police within 24 hours about any hazing incidents.