Florida A&M University's Board of Trustees meets Monday to
discuss the future of the college's popular marching band in the
aftermath of the hazing-related death of a member.
Band director Julian White, who had been with the prestigious band for 40 years, stepped down under pressure last week.
He was placed on paid
administrative leave shortly after the hazing death of FAMU Marching 100
drum major Robert Champion in November.
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.
The ritual, called
"Crossing Bus C," is an initiation process in which pledges attempt to
run down the center aisle of the bus while senior members assault them,
according to some university band members.
An autopsy found
"extensive contusions of (Champion's) chest, arms, shoulder and back,"
and "evidence of crushing of areas of subcutaneous fat."
Thirteen people have been
charged in connection with Champion's death, 11 are facing felony
hazing charges and two others are charged with misdemeanor hazing.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) also is investigating "financial irregularities" involving the band.
White's resignation last
week came days after FAMU President James Ammons told the trustees in a
letter that about 100 band members were not enrolled at the school
during the fall, CNN affiliate WCTV reported.
Of the ineligible band
members, 51 of them and one cheerleader made the fatal trip to Orlando.
All received a daily allowance for expenses.
"We are looking into per
diems claimed by individuals as part of the band trips," Gretl
Plessinger with the state's law enforcement department told WCTV.
The band has been under suspension following the incident and the resulting investigations.
Champion's mother, Pam, has called for it to be disbanded.
"They need to clean out
the filth to move forward. How can they allow the band out there?" she
said last week. "They haven't done anything to safeguard students --
certainly not my son. My son was murdered."
But Ammons, the college president, said in a letter last week he was considering reinstating the band.
"I have asked the
Internal Crisis Management Team to speak with our supporters, such as
faculty, student leaders, the alumni, the boosters and the Athletic
Department ... to hear their input about the conditions for bringing the
band back," Ammons wrote.
University System Chancellor Frank Brogan argues against reinstatement, saying too many questions remain.
"Reinstating the band
prior to these issues being resolved would side-step efforts under way,
which could impact the band's long-term survival," Brogan said in his
response to Ammons' letter. "Reconciling these and other issues under
investigation will ensure that the institution's operational priorities
and controls are in place."
Throughout the school's
history, the Marching 100, which incorporates dance moves into
traditional marching formations, has been a source of pride for the
school. It has played in inaugural parades for Presidents Bill Clinton
and Barack Obama and in several Super Bowls.
In 1985, the band won
The Louis Sudler Intercollegiate Marching Band Trophy, awarded annually
by the John Philip Sousa Foundation to "collegiate marching bands of
The band's website bills the Marching 100 as "The Most Imitated Marching Band in America."
As recently as last
week, White, 71, had asked for full reinstatement as director of the
famed university band. His attorney, Chuck Hobbs, said last week that
White had tried to root out hazing for the past 22 years.
prompted the university board of trustees to approve an anti-hazing plan
that includes an independent panel of experts to investigate.
The death brought
renewed public scrutiny to the practice of hazing, which some students
have contended has gone on for years despite what the Tallahassee
university said were efforts to stop it.