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New Restrictions for FAMU Band Called 'NCAA-Like'

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WFSU
FAMU President James H. Ammons speaking with Trimmel Gomes

Update 7:08 pm:   The chairman of the Florida Board of Governors has outlined a series of concerns it wants the school to address in FAMU President James Ammons' next evaluation.

"The Board of Governors remains concerned with the number of serious issues that continue to mount at Florida A&M University," chairman Dean Colson wrote in a letter to Solomon Badger, who chairs the FAMU board.

Among the areas Colson outlined his letter:

  • --Questions about how individuals who were not enrolled in mandatory courses were allowed to participate in the Marching 100 band;
  • The university's response to allegations of sexual assault against minors at the university's Developmental Research School; and
  • Whisteblower complaints that the conclusions of some audit and investigative reports were reached before any work on the reports was actually begun.

Colson's letter also seems to leave open the BOG's options to weigh in more strongly on Ammons' future if the concerns raised by the letter aren't addressed by the board of trustees, which he wrote is initially responsible for overseeing the FAMU administration.

"At the same time, the Board of Governors has retained the responsibility, through the evaluation process, to ensure that a university's chief executive officer is providing appropriate leadership and oversight for all aspects of university operations, including compliance with system-wide regulations," Colson wrote.

"As you conduct the President's evaluation for the 2011-12 fiscal year, we expect the Florida A&M Board of Trustees to include the issues raised in this letter and consult with me, as Chair of the Board of Governors, and Chancellor [Frank] Brogan on the President's performance in these critical areas," Colson continued.

The letter came just days before the FAMU board holds a retreat and meeting Wednesday and Thursday, and on the same day that Ammons released some proposals for dealing with the Marching 100. Eleven people were charged in the November beating death of drum major Robert Champion, which prosecutors have alleged was part of a hazing.

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Florida A&M University is taking a page out of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s rule book as it proposes sweeping changes to its famed Marching 100 band, following the hazing death of drum major Robert Champion.  FAMU President James Ammons, speaking on "It's About Florida," said some of the rules adhered to in the NCAA, can and should be applied to the Marching 100.

“There would be required academic standards and academic progress that must be maintained in order for a student to continue their participation in the band.”

Another page taken from the NCAA is having a compliance officer for the Music Department. The school will also have something like a hazing czar, with broad-ranging authority to address hazing issues throughout the university.  Ammons suspended the band shortly after the November death of drum major Robert Champion. Eleven band members face felony hazing charges while two others face misdemeanor counts. Ammons last month announced the band would remain off the field for the next year while FAMU tries to cleanse the hazing culture that surrounds the band. 

The proposed measures include:

·         The creation of a FAMU Anti-Hazing Special Assistant to the president, with broad-ranging authority to address hazing issues throughout the University.  

·         The establishment of a FAMU Compliance Officer for the Music Department, with direct reporting to the Special Assistant for Anti-Hazing.

·         The re-organization and expansion of staff in the Office of Judicial Affairs to facilitate the adjudication of hazing issues and other matters pertaining to the student code of conduct. 

·         The establishment of a FAMU Anti-Hazing website and Facebook page to be in place for the fall semester to enhance education efforts and reporting.

In addition, Ammons will discuss with the board a comprehensive strategy on the structure and operation of the Band and Department of Music at the upcoming Board of Trustees meeting scheduled for June 6 and 7. Once this new structure is in place, FAMU will begin the search for a new band director, he said.

Among the measures proposed for the band are:

·         A four-year cap on the number of years a student can participate in music department bands.

·         A requirement that all band members be enrolled full-time at FAMU

·         Practice would be limited to 20 hours a week, with a ban on practices that are not supervised by music department staff.

·         More rigorous academic requirements to ensure timely matriculation of students.