By Howard Goodman
Florida Center for Investigative Reporting
Here’s an update on the FAMU marching band’s difficulties:
The school has ruled the famed Marching 100 should remain suspended for at least another year.
FAMU President James Ammons said the band should stay off the field at least until a new band director is hired and new rules for the band have been adopted, the Associated Press reported.
Eleven FAMU band members face felony charges in the November hazing death of Robert Champion, while two others face misdemeanor counts. The band has been banned from performing since soon after he died, and the band director Julian White recently retired after it was revealed that at least 100 band members were not students when Champion died.
“I think there is a period we should take that these measures are in place and we have addressed all the institutional issues,” Ammons said.
Top state officials including Gov. Rick Scott and the university system chancellor say the Marching 100 should remain sidelined until other ongoing investigations into the band are completed.
The Marching 100 has had a rich history, performing at Super Bowls and in inauguration parades. The band has been one of the main draws during FAMU football games, and some board members on Monday wanted to know if the decision to keep the band off the field until 2013 would impact ticket sales.
Ammons tried to fire White last November. But White’s dismissal was placed on hold while the criminal investigation unfolded. He insisted that he did nothing wrong and fought for months to get reinstated.
That changed last week after Ammons told trustees that three of those charged in Champion’s death weren’t FAMU students at the time.
Meanwhile, the Florida A&M chapter of the national Kappa Kappa Psi band fraternity has decided to close for at least five years, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.
A notice posted on the organization’s website today says the decision to remove until at least May 3, 2017, the Delta Iota Chapter as an active chapter was based on hazing activities, failure to follow fraternity polices and the uncertain future of the band and FAMU’s music department.
In addition to closing the chapter, the organization expelled 28 members, including all those who were undergraduates or pledging during the spring of 2010. A Tallassee police investigation concluded in March implicated two FAMU band staff members as being involved in the hazing of Kappa Kappa Psi pledges during that time. The fraternity conducted its own investigation after the police report was complete.
Here’s more background around the band’s history of hazing.