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College Band Suspended After Death

November 24, 2011 by staff 

College Band Suspended After Death, Florida A&M University’s famed Marching 100 band, which has a history of hazing, has been shut down until investigators find out more about how one of its members died after a football game.

University president James Ammons said he suspended all performances and other activities out of respect for the family of 26-year-old Robert Champion of Atlanta. The drum major was found unresponsive on a bus parked in front of an Orlando hotel Saturday night after the school’s loss to annual rival Bethune-Cookman. Champion was vomiting and had complained he couldn’t breathe before he collapsed.

Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said a preliminary autopsy was inconclusive and that more tests would be needed to know what caused Champion’s death. But Demings said that investigators had traveled to Tallahassee and had concluded that “hazing was involved in the events that occurred prior to the 911 call for assistance.’’

In Florida, any death that occurs in connection with hazing is a third-degree felony.

“In the next few days or weeks, it will become clearer as to whether any criminal charges will be forthcoming,’’ Demings said in a statement.

University officials acknowledged Tuesday that 30 students this semester were kicked off the band because of hazing and that there are three active investigations.

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