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FAMU band to remain suspended through 2012-13 in aftermath of Robert Champion's hazing death

Don Juan Moore / AP

Florida A&M Marching 100 Band during the game against Delaware State Hornets at Bragg Memorial Stadium on Oct. 1, 2011 in Tallahassee, Fla.

Florida A&M University’s famed marching band will remain suspended through the 2012-13 academic year as the school continues to wrestle with the aftermath of the hazing death of a drum major last fall.

FAMU President James Ammons made the announcement during a teleconference Monday with the university’s board of trustees. He said time is needed to come up with a new set of guidelines before the Marching 100 can be reinstated.

"I was heavily influenced by the need to be respectful to Robert Champion's family as well as the other victims," Ammons said. "A young man lost his life and others suffered serious injuries."


Eleven of the 13 people charged in the death of drum major Robert Champion are facing third-degree felony charges in what the prosecutor calls a case of 'homicide by hazing.' NBC's Kerry Sanders reports.

Authorities say Champion, 26, was badly beaten during a hazing incident on a band bus following a football game in Orlando. He died within an hour of the attack. His death, which was ruled a homicide, has drawn public scrutiny to what critics say has been a tradition of hazing at the Tallahassee-based university.

Band director Julian White, who had been with the prestigious band for 40 years, resigned under pressure last week.  He had been put on paid administrative leave shortly after Champion’s death in November. Two music professors also resigned recently.

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Thirteen people were charged last week in connection with Champion's death -- 11 are facing felony hazing charges and two others are charged with misdemeanor hazing.

"No one would have expected that his college experience would have included being pummeled to death," Lawson Lamar, the state attorney for Orange-Osceola County, said at the news conference announcing the charges. “I have come to believe that hazing is a term for bullying, bullying with a tradition.”

The Marching 100, which incorporates dance moves into traditional marching formations, had been a source of pride for the school. It played in inaugural parades for Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, and in several Super Bowls. According to its website, many of the Marching 100's techniques have become standard operating procedures for high school and college programs throughout the nation.

The suspension means there will be no marching band for the upcoming college football season. University officials are looking into the impact on football game ticket sales and other contractual obligations.

Ammons said there is no timetable yet for bringing the band back.

"Once I feel that the issues are resolved, then we'll look at the reimplementation of the band," he told trustees.

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