Marching 100

Tom Flanigan

The Capital City marked Veterans Day on Saturday with a big parade on Monroe Street. The event was a tangible tribute to all who have served in the nation's military.

Group Of Lawyers Backing Challenge To Anti-Hazing Law

Jun 23, 2017
FAMU Drum Major Robert Champion died due to injuries sustained in a hazing ritual. His family is suing FAMU.

A statewide organization of criminal defense attorneys wants to support a former Florida A&M University band member in his challenge to the constitutionality of a state anti-hazing law.

LHatter / WFSU

Florida A & M University has tapped a former Ohio band director to lead the school’s “Marching 100” band. FAMU, even as the organizations remain under suspension.

Dr. Sylvester Young says it took friends and colleagues calling constantly to get him to apply for the job. The 66-year-old Young had been retired since stepping down from a 25-year stint as Band Director at Ohio University, but says he viewed the FAMU position as the opportunity of a lifetime.

The search for the next director of Florida A&M University’s marching band continues after contract negotiations for the candidate fell through Tuesday.

Florida A&M was all set to announce North Carolina Central band director Jorim Reid as the next director of marching and pep bands, but the deal fell through after the school and Reid failed to reach an agreement on the job requirements in the position. Interim University President Larry Robinson says he believes it’s best for the school to start the search process over again:

A press conference to announce a new band director for Florida A&M University didn’t happen as planned Tuesday. Minutes before the announcement, university officials said they weren’t ready to name a new director because of contract disputes.

R.Benk / WFSU-FM

Monday marked one year since the hazing death of a Florida A&M University drum major. Students and faculty gathered together on the FAMU campus to remember the life of Robert Champion.

About 50 friends, former band mates and university faculty attended the vigil. Student Brandon Cunningham, former president of the school’s Marching 100, recalled the night that former band director Julian White told them the news.

In the nine months since Champion death, FAMU has dealt with the arrest and felony charges for 12 former band members, the resignation of the school’s longtime band director and university president, as well as negative publicity. And students like Rance Rutherford say almost everywhere they go, people want to know what’s going on:

After the forced retirement of longtime FAMU Band Director Julian White in the aftermath of the hazing death of Marching 100 band drum major Robert Champion, the university is looking at the next step:  hiring White's replacement.

Here's the release from the university announcing the search:


The pressure on Florida A & M University continues to mount in the run-up to its board of trustees meeting set for Wednesday and Thursday.  In advance of the meeting, the chairman of the board that oversees all of Florida’s public universities issued a letter to FAMU’s board of trustees Chairman, seeking greater input into the evaluation of University President James Ammons.

Two defendants have pleaded no contest to lesser charges of misdemeanor hazing in the beating of a fellow Florida A&M University band member. Police say fellow band members beat Bria Shante Hunter on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1.

After their pleas in Tallahassee, Aaron Golson and Sean Hobson were sentenced Thursday to 30 days in a work camp followed by 12 months of probation.

Action in the case of a third defendant was delayed.

Florida A&M University’s Marching 100 band will remain under suspension for at least another year. Lynn Hatter reports the university’s president says the band will need to undergo a restructuring phase before it can be allowed back on the field.

Florida A&M University President James Ammons says the decision to keep the band under suspension was not made lightly.


Dr. Julian White has spent more than 50 years at Florida A&M, first as a student band member, then later on, as a music professor under the band’s founder, Dr. William Foster. White was promoted to director of bands and Chairman of the school’s music department. At almost every milestone in the band’s history, from the 1989 Bastille Day Parade in France, to winning the prestigious Sudler award—even playing super bowls and presidential inaugural parades, White has been there.

The fallout from the hazing scandal at Florida A&M University continued today: First there was news that after 40 years, the band director was stepping down and then there was news that Florida's top university official asked the university to keep the Marching 100 band off the field.

Leon County Sheriff's Office

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement says it has now arrested 10 out of the 11 people charged with felonies in the hazing death of a Florida A&M University band member. Lynn Hatter has more.

Two more people charged in the death of FAMU Marching 100 Band Drum major Robert Champion turned themselves in to the Leon County Jail Friday. They are 21-year-old Ryan Dean and 24-year-old Jonathan Boyce. Both have been released on bond.

Caleb Jackson was one of 15 people arrested for the Nov. 2011 hazing death of FAMU Drum Major, Robert Champion.
Leon County Jail / Leon County Sheriff's Office

Update 4:37 pm:  FDLE says it has an eighth person in custody.

Aaron Golson, B/M, DOB, 6/20/92, Gadsden County Jail

Update 2:40 pm:  Seven out of the 11 people facing felony hazing charges in the death of FAMU Marching 100 Band Drum Major Robert Champion have been taken into custody.

Of the remaining four, three are out-of-state.

Tony Levell

Update: 4:50 pm:   The Leon County Sheriff's office says they've taken two people into custody in connection with the Champion case.  They are 23-year-old Caleb Jackson and 24-year-old Ricky Wills. Both are charged with felony hazing relating in death.

The Tallahassee Police Department has released an incident report that cites two Florida A&M University music department faculty members as suspects in a hazing event that took place in 2010. According to the report, pledges of a fraternity associated with the school’s marching band were slapped on their backs and necks at an event held off-campus at the home of one of the faculty members. Lynn Hatter has more.

In a new twist to the ongoing investigation into the hazing death of a Florida A&M University band member, the family is now saying that he may have been targeted because of his sexuality. Lynn Hatter reports Robert Champion died in November following a football game in Orlando. The family is preparing to sue the bus company that transported the band to and from the game.