Florida A&M President James Ammons announced the internal task force that will investigate the inner-workings of the Marching "100."
Florida Attorney General Bob Butterworth, along with Quincy Chief of Police Walt McNeil and former state senator Al Lawson will spearhead the investigation, announced by Ammons on Tuesday.
Five others were also announced: Joe Oglesby, a Pulitzer Prize-winning former Editorial Page editor of The Miami Herald and a FAMU graduate; Derek Daniel, former executive director of the Florida Commission on Human Relations; John Charles Thomas, director of Communications and Political Initiatives for the Florida League of Cities; Freddie Groomes-McLendon, and Tallahassee Atty. Daryl Parks, president of the National Bar Association and a former member of the FAMU Board of Trustees who served as chair of the Student Relations Committee.
Gov. Rick Scott has called on Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey to launch an investigation into the death of Rober Champion.
"The recent death of Florida A&M University's "Marching 100" band drum major Robert Champion has generated great concern throughout the state and indeed the nation," Scott said.
"I request that FDLE thoroughly investigate the death of Robert Champion by working with the Orange County's Sheriff's Office and any other investigative agencies to as may be necessary, to ensure that the cause of Robert Champion's death become fully known, and that if there are individuals directly or indirectly responsible for this death, they are appropriately brought to justice and held accountable," Scott stated.
The Famuan has just received word that Julian E. White, director of bands at Florida A&M, has been fired effective Dec. 22.
White joined FAMU's faculty in 1972 and has been director of the Marching "100" since 1998. The same year he became director, Ivery Luckey, a clarinet player said he was hazed. In 2004, the Board of Trustees awarded Luckey $50,000 for having been paddled 300 times resulting in him being hospitalized.
In 2001, the university awarded $1.8 million to Marcus Parker, a trumpet player who was beaten so badly one of his kidneys temporarily failed.
The Orange County (Orlando, Fla.) Sherrif's Office has confirmed that Robert Champion's was caused by hazing.
Florida A&M President James Ammons put the marching band on indefinite suspension following allegations of hazing, which possibly led to the death of drum major Robert Champion. Ammons, making the announcement during a noon media conference, also said he is developing an internal task force to look into hazing and its role in the "culture of the band.” The head of the task force is said to be announced later this week.
Rumors that hazing may have been the cause of Champion's death surfaced just hours after police found him unresponsive on a band bus just before 10 p.m. on Saturday.
Ammons said that this task force will not necessarily attempt to establish culpability among participants in any speculated hazing incident. Rather, he wants to know how the alleged incident impacts university policy.
Just last week, nearly 30 members of the band were dismissed due to hazing allegations, according to Ammons and Director of Bands Julian White, who also was present at the media conference.
White said reports were filed with the FAMU Police Department on those who were accused. The incident is still under investigation.
The Orange County (Orlando, Fla.) Sherriff's Office is continuing its investigation. A memorial for Champion is scheduled for 6 p.m. today in Lee Hall.
Capt. Angelo Nieves of the Orange County (Orlando, Fla.) Sheriff's Office said that a team of investigators will come to Tallahassee on Tuesday to continue their investigation into the death of 26-year-old Robert Champion.
The drum major of the Marching "100" was found unresponsive on a bus in a hotel parking lot in Orlando on Saturday evening. He was pronounced dead later that night.
Florida A&M student and drum major Robert Champion died suddenly after performing in the last football game of the season.
The 26-year-old male was unconscious when the Orange County (Orlando, Fla.) Sheriff’s Office and paramedics arrived on the scene, and was found on a student bus.
He was then transported to Dr. Phillips Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
No foul play is suspected, according to Deputy Ginette Rodriguez, public information officer for OCSO. However, circumstances surrounding Champion’s death are still being investigated.
After the game, the band returned to the Rosen Plaza Hotel where they were lodging when the victim reportedly vomited in the parking lot and started to complain about not being able to breathe.
Those on the scene called 911 and administered CPR. He was transported to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. The victim's mother was contacted notified of Champion's death by university officials.
"We are in shock," said Julian White, FAMU’s director of bands and chairman of the department of music. "He was a very fine drum major who was of excellent character and very trustworthy. I had not told him yet, but he was slated to be the head drum major next year."
Champion, a music student from Atlanta, served as one of six drum majors for the 375-member Marching "100" band who traveled to Orlando for the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida Classic. A drum major since spring 2010, Champion had performed in the Classic's half-time show earlier in the day.
Sorrow continues to loom throughout the university community and among others who knew Champion.
"Robert was an extraordinary guy and was very determined to be a leader,” said Ronald Sandridge, a former clarinet player in the band who said Champion was his section leader and drum major. “When I found out, I was in shock, disbelief."
Sandridge heard the news while visiting Orlando for the game.
"I had just seen him performing on Saturday and before the band left on Friday. I wished him luck, before we departed," he said.
A memorial is scheduled at FAMU’s Lee Hall auditorium on Nov. 22 at 6 p.m.
The Famuan, the Florida A&M University student newspaper, which originally published this article.