Florida A&M President James H. Ammons has suspended the task force assembled to investigate the conduct of the Marching “100.” Florida Gov. Rick Scott agrees.
Ammons planned to launch a separate, eight-member task force to determine whether there were any questionable actions in the university’s vaunted marching band. The task force’s role was not to find the people involved in the alleged hazing, but to focus solely on the behavior of the band.
Scott Friday publicly supported Ammons’ decision to suspend his task force pending two other investigations into the Marching “100.”
“When something like this happens, what we ought to be doing is make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Scott told reporters at the Capitol.
In a news release sent late Thursday, Ammons said he is delaying the work of the task force until the board that oversees the state university system completes its review.
“Based upon input from the governor’s office and in light of the recently announced Nov. 29 investigation by the Board of Governors, I believe it will be prudent to postpone the work of the task force to allow this and other investigations to be pursued with our full cooperation and attention,” Ammons said in the release from the university.
The task force was scheduled to meet Monday to review anti-hazing regulations at the university as a response to the Nov. 19 death of drum major Robert Champion Jr.
Champion was found on a band bus outside of the Rosen Plaza off International Drive in Orlando, Fla. He was unresponsive and vomiting when the paramedics were called to the scene.
Scott believes the university should await the conclusion of investigation by the Orange County Sheriff Office, Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Florida Board of Governors before launching its own inquiries.
Some students and alumni side with Ammons on this decision.
“I agree with President Ammons decision to postpone his investigation,” said S. Brown, a former Florida A&M student. “I can appreciate the president’s initiative to create the task force, but I don’t think they would be able to get to the bottom as law enforcement would.”
Scott assured the public he did not sway Ammons to halt the task force.
“It only makes sense for the FDLE investigation to happen first,” said Scott.
David Green, 23, a third-year psychology student, believes Ammons is doing the best he can give the seriousness of the situation.
“He wants answers just as everyone else does,” Green said. “Since there are other state investigations going on to find out what happened to Robert first then those are top priority and should happen first.”
Ammons first announced the use of an internal task force to investigate Champion’s death during a media brief held late last month.
Communication officials at FAMU were unavailable for comment, and referenced Ammons press release on the task force as their current statement.