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FAMU band suspension to extend through next year

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.

 “I was heavily influenced by the need to be respectful to Robert Champion’s family as well as other individuals. A young man lost his life and others suffered serious injuries," he told the university's board of trustees Monday.

The band was placed on an indefinite suspension following the hazing death of band drum major Robert Champion. 13 people are facing charges in that case.  State University System Chancellor Frank Brogan used his bully pulpit to also advocate for keeping the band off the field.

Ammons says the university is looking to create a new way of governing the Marching 100. That includes putting stricter rules in place for everything from who is eligible to perform, to establishing a code-of-conduct for out-of-town trips.

“Academic standards for eligibility, length of time an individual can participate. Length of practice time. The number of adults accompanying the band on out-of-town trips.  Enforcing travel procedures.”  

Last week the university reported that about a quarter of the 400-plus member ensemble weren’t actively enrolled students, yet had been allowed to perform with the band. Three of those charged in the hazing death of drum major Robert Champion were among those ineligible to perform.

The Champion case continues to have ramifications for FAMU’s band program. As the university announced the band’s suspension, the National Chapter of the Kappa Kappa Psi Band Fraternity announced it was revoking its FAMU Chapter’s Charter over a 2010 case that involved two music department faculty who have since resigned. Kappa Kappa Psi’s Executive Director Alan Bonner says hazing violates the fraternity’s policies.

“When that happens, we will revoke the charter of a charter of a chapter. And that’s what we did in this case," he said.

The Delta Iota Chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi will remain disbanded for at least five years.


Dr. Ammons addressed reporters following the Board of Trustees meeting. You can see the full video courtesy of the News Service of Florida, below: