Fla. A&M Suspends Band After Hazing Death

Hazing widespread within 'Marching 100,' parents say
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 23, 2011 12:03 AM CST
Fla. A&M Suspends Band After Hazing Death
The Florida A&M University band is one of America's best-known and most-imitated marching bands.   (AP Photo/Rob Carr, File)

All performances by Florida A&M University's famed "Marching 100" band have been suspended while police and the university investigate the death of a drum major. Over the weekend, Robert Champion, 26, collapsed outside a charter bus after a football game in which the band performed at half-time. He died in the hospital soon after and police say hazing was a factor in his death, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

The parents of some band members say they have urged the university to deal with what they claim is widespread verbal and physical abuse within the famous band. One source says Champion was "crossing bus C" when he died, a "rite of passage" which involves beating a new section member as he walks from the front to the back of the bus. The band's director says he has dismissed over a dozen band members because of possible hazing events recently. Champion "was a very fine drum major who was of excellent character and very trustworthy," he says. "I had not told him yet, but he was slated to be the head drum major next year." (More Florida stories.)

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