UPDATE: Scott orders investigation into Marching 100 death, band director firedby Dara Kam | November 23rd, 2011
UPDATE: Longtime FAMU Marching 100 band director Julian White has been fired. FAMU President James Ammons sent White a termination letter Wednesday, citing White’s inability to stop suspected hazing in the music department.
“He has been placed on administrative leave with pay, effective immediately pending the final resolution of this employment action. The reason for this intended employment action is based upon alleged misconduct and/or incompetence involving confirmed reports and allegations of hazing within the Department of Music and the ‘Marching 100.’ He has 10 days to respond in writing before action is taken,” FAMU spokeswoman Sharon Saunders said in an e-mail.
Gov. Rick Scott has ordered an investigation into the death of Robert Champion, a drum major with the renowned Florida A & M University Marching 100.
Champion, 26, 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. Investigators believe hazing occurred before 911 was called. Champion was vomiting and had complained he couldn’t breathe before he collapsed. He died a short time later at a hospital.
Champion’s death has “generated great concern throughout the state and indeed the nation,” Scott wrote to Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey on Wednesday.
Acknowledging that the Orange County Sheriff’s Office is investigating Champion’s death, Scott said the FDLE inquiry is necessary as well. Under Florida law, any death involving hazing is a third-degree felony.
“The reality is that the death investigation significantly impacts the university, the Tallahassee community and the state of Florida as a whole,” Scott wrote.
Scott ordered FDLE to work with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office and any other investigative agencies “to assure that the circumstances leading to Mr. 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.”
University officials on Tuesday suspended the famed Marching 100 band and all other FAMU music department ensembles, affecting more than 400 students.
The Marching 100 — whose rich history includes performing at several Super Bowls and representing the U.S. in Paris at the 200th anniversary of the French Revolution — was scheduled to perform at the fall commencement on Dec. 16.