Two weeks after a member of its acclaimed marching band died in an alleged hazing incident, Florida A&M University is dismissing four students for their role in the death of drum major Robert Champion.
Authorities have yet to release specifics in the ongoing investigation but they said hazing played a role in the 26-year-old’s death. Audio of an emergency call released Thursday revealed that the drum major had vomit in his mouth moments before he died.
“I want to report that four (4) students have been dismissed from the University in connection to the Robert Champion incident,” University President James Ammons said in a memo.
In the immediate wake of Champion’s death, the school fired band director Julian White and suspended the Marching 100. FAMU says it will conduct an independent review of the marching band program.
The most troubling aspect of all of this is that the University could have seen this coming.
The Associated Press reported that two decades prior to last month’s tragedy, White reportedly warned the school about the dangers of long-held hazing practices within the ensemble, saying “it would be very difficult for the university and the band should someone become killed or hurt.”
White became the initial scapegoat for the historically black college in the aftermath of Champion’s death, which prompted the deposed director to release more than 150 pages of documents detailing his warnings to school administrators about the need to eradicate hazing.