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Florida A&M band director fired after suspected hazing death

The longtime band director at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee was fired on Wednesday after the suspected hazing death of a drum major.

University president James Ammons sent band director Julian White a termination letter, citing White's inability to stop the suspected hazing in the band and music department.

"We are serious, this has to stop," Ammons told the Orlando Sentinel. "The highest priority we have as a university is protecting the health, safety and well-being of our students."

Officials say 26-year-old Robert Champion was found unresponsive on a bus parked outside an Orlando hotel on Saturday night after the school's football team lost to rival Bethune-Cookman. Champion was vomiting and had complained he couldn't breathe before he collapsed.

A telephone message left at White's home by the Associated Press wasn't immediately returned. White has been placed on paid administrative leave and has 10 days to respond to his firing.

The exact cause and manner of Champion's death are pending the autopsy results, said Sheri Blanton, a forensic coordinator for the medical examiner. There is no timetable for getting the results back, but most cases take 10 to 12 weeks, she said.

FAMU officials acknowledged that 30 students have been kicked off the band this semester due to hazing incidents. There are currently three investigations.

On Tuesday, officials at the Tallahassee school suspended the famed Marching 100 band and any other ensemble that performs under the supervision of the FAMU music department. The move affects more than 400 students.