Ineligible band members implicated in FAMU hazing death of Robert Champion

(CBS News) The longtime band director at Florida A&M announced his retirement Thursday.

Dr. Julian White's leadership has been under scrutiny in the wake of a hazing death of a drum major, and it turns out not all of those arrested in the scandal were students; 101 people on the band's roster were not enrolled in school's music department.

Now Florida's top education official says the band should remain suspended indefinitely.

CBS News correspondent Mark Strassman reports that when Florida A&M's famed band traveled to Orlando last November, 60 of the more than 300 performers on the field had no business being there because they were not enrolled in a mandatory band course. It was a direct violation of school policy. The school can't confirm they were even enrolled in college.

Hours later, drum major Robert Champion Jr. was beaten to death in a hazing ritual aboard a band bus.

Eleven defendants were charged for that crime; three - Caleb Jackson, Bryan Jones and Lasherry Condor - were among the ineligible performers.

Pictures: Florida A&M hazing case
Watch: Julian White: "I did all I could"
Julian White, director of embattled FAMU marching band, retires

Former band director White admitted to CBS News last November that hangers-on, including alumni, were a problem in the school's hazing culture.

"I think that a small percentage of our alumni may not have been mature enough to move on with their lives," White said, adding he had suspicions some of the alumni participated in the hazing rituals.

FAMU band member Aaron Golson, 19 years old and another defendant in Champion's death, is also charged in a separate hazing attack in which the leg of a freshman female clarinet player was broken.

Robert Champion's mother Pam believes the school lost institutional control over the band.

"The sad thing is Robert loved that school. He loved that band. And they all failed him," Pam Champion said. "They're going to have to clean house. Get rid of the filth that's there. Everything is out in the open now."

In a statement, FAMU spokeswoman Sharon P. Saunders said: "We were recently made aware of the fact these individuals were not enrolled. The university clearly has written guidelines that require marching band students to be enrolled at FAMU, Florida State University or Tallahassee Community College and in a specific band course. According to the Marching "100" Band Handbook, students cannot be issued a uniform unless their class schedule is submitted to the Department of Music. To the extent any employee has failed to adhere to these guidelines, they were acting outside the scope of their employment. The University is reviewing this situation and ways to ensure that band guidelines are followed."

The school's board of trustees could meet as soon as Thursday to discuss the band's future.


  • Mark Strassmann

    Mark Strassmann was named CBS News Transportation correspondent in August 2011. He has been a CBS News correspondent since January 2001, and is based in the Atlanta bureau.

Comments

Follow Us

On Twitter