It is too soon for Florida A&M University’s famed marching band to resume activities, Gov. Rick Scott said the day after authorities charged 13 individuals in connection with the hazing death of Marching “100″ drum major Robert Champion.
“I think we ought to finish and make sure that there’s not going to be anything like this happen again. I don’t think we’re in that position yet,” Scott told reporters after a “National Day of Prayer” event in the Capitol this afternoon. “The band’s got a great history. But we can’t afford to lose another individual like Robert Champion. So I think they ought to continue the process they’ve been going through with their task force but I don’t think it’s ready yet.”
FAMU administrators suspended the celebrated marching band and all other ensembles in the music department in the aftermath of Champion’s November death. The 26-year-old died of a homicide by hazing, authorities said, after being pummeled by his peers following the Rattlers’ loss to rival football team Bethune-Cookman.
As of Wednesday afternoon, seven of the 13 individuals charged had been arrested or turned themselves into authorities, including two in Tallahassee. Eleven individuals were charged with felony hazing, punishable by up to six years in prison. Still others may be charged in the future, Orange County State Attorney Lamar Lawson said yesterday.
Champion’s death exposed a “culture of hazing” at the historically black university. Long=time FAMU music director Julian White was put on administrative leave and the university and Board of Trustees created a task force to look into FAMU’s troubled history with hazing and how to reverse it.
Four members of the fabled band were arrested in January in connection with an unrelated hazing. And two music professors who were allegedly present during the hazing of band fraternity pledges resigned last week.
Both faculty members had been placed on paid administrative leave in late March after a Tallahassee Police Department report quoted witnesses as saying they were on hand when the hazing occurred at the home of one of the professors in early 2010.