Florida A&M; University lifts marching band suspension

Mural painted in one of the buildings at the Patch, practice field of the "Marching 100," at Florida A&M; University.
(Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda / Orlando Sentinel)

Florida A&M; University’s marching band, suspended since 2011 after the hazing death of a drum major, will be allowed to take the field again.

The university’s interim president, Larry Robinson, announced the lifting of the suspension Thursday morning, as well as other anti-hazing reforms, the Associated Press reported.

The suspension followed the November 2011 death of Robert Champion, 26. Official reports said Champion died after blunt-force trauma was inflicted by moving past a gantlet of fellow band members who hit him with fists, drumsticks and other objects in a hazing ritual known as “crossing Bus C.”


Twelve band members have been charged with manslaughter in connection with the death, and one other person pleaded no contest in October. Champion’s family has also filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the university.

The scandal led to the resignation of FAMU’s president and the retirement of its band leader. The band was a source of pride for the school, featured in performances at presidential inaugurations and the Super Bowl.

Robinson reported a number of changes in response to the incident, including revising its student conduct policies, created forums on an anti-hazing website and directed funds to hazing prevention research.

A new director was hired last month. Sylvester Young, a school alumnus and former director of the Ohio University marching band, told the AP he was holding rehearsals but was not sure if the band would be prepared to perform in the first game of the football season Sept. 1.


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