Legal Woes May Be on the Horizon for FAMU

Dec. 2

3:15 p.m.

The Famuan has learned that Attorney Willie Gary will serve as co-counsel with Attorney Charles Hobbs in former Director of Bands Julian White’s planned lawsuit against Florida A&M. 

2:03 p.m.

Florida A&M’s Student Government Association will hold a “mandatory” Anti-Hazing Forum in the Jake Gaither Gymnasium on Monday, Dec. 5 at 6:30 p.m

Among the panel speakers, will be President James Ammons, Dean of Students Henry Kirby and Director of Student Activities Marvin Green. 

Organizations who fail to attend the forum will be sanctioned by SGA and the Office of Student Activities according to SGA President Breyon Love. 

1:30 p.m.

Florida A&M President James Ammons has suspended the task force he assigned to investigate the death of Robert Champion and the culture of the Marching “100” until Monday. 

Dec. 1

12:30 p.m.

The Famuan has learned that President Ammons has expelled four students in connection with the hazing-related death of Marching “100” Drum Major Robert Champion. 

We will continue to update this story later today as new developments unfold. 


Nov. 30

Lawsuits surrounding the hazing-related death of Robert Champion, a drum major for Florida A&M’s Marching “100,” may be filed by the band’s recently terminated director Julian White, as well as the family of the victim.

Both the Champion Family and White appeared before media on Monday with their attorneys present announcing plans to file suit against the university.

The Champion Family appeared on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Monday with their attorney, Christopher Chestnut.

He said the university has been covering up a “pervasive culture of hazing” for decades.

“We want to eradicate a culture of hazing so this doesn’t happen again,” said Chestnut, a Gainesville attorney. 

“Hazing is a culture of, ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell.’ The family’s message today is: ‘Please tell.'”

“If you’ve got something like this going on and on and on, eventually something is bound to happen,” said Pam Champion, the victim’s mother.

“If it wasn’t my son, it probably would have been somebody else.”

Charles Hobbs, the attorney representing White, held a 1 p.m. press conference at his office, giving his client a chance to make public remarks regarding his lawsuit against FAMU.

President James Ammons terminated White last week for his alleged “misconduct and/or incompetence involving confirmed allegations of hazing within the Music Department and the Marching ‘100.'”

White and his attorney, however, claim that the administration did not do enough to support his [White’s] efforts to eradicate hazing in the band.

“I did everything I could to eradicate hazing. I don’t want to say I coined the zero-tolerance policy on hazing at Florida A&M, but definitely in the band,” said White.

Prior to Champion’s death after the Florida Classic game in Orlando, 26 students were suspended from the band.

Hobbs said the university didn’t take further disciplinary action upon the students who were dismissed by White.

“Had decisive senior-level action been taken earlier, in the form o f suspending the band before the Florida Classic, it is possible that Mr. Champion would still be alive today,” Hobbs stated.

This is not the first time FAMU has been sued regarding hazing incidents in the band. Former bandsmen, Ivery Luckey and Marcus Parker, claimed they were hazed as underclassmen.

In 2004, Luckey was awarded $50,000 by the Florida Board of Regents [Governors] for a paddling initiation that sent him to the hospital. Parker was awarded $1.8 million in 2001 for a hazing incident which led to kidney damage.

Hobbs also provided suspension letters of band members for alleged hazing, which date back to 2002, along with documentation of anti-hazing efforts by White spanning 22 years.

White, however, did acknowledge that students who have been suspended from the band under his tenure have been allowed to come back.

“Students are suspended pending the outcome of an investigation that will either clear them or find them guilty,” said White.

He said that he sometimes makes exceptions for a few of his students.

“If an individual is found not guilty…there are not a lot of kids, but I do make exceptions; I believe in rehabilitation. I would say 98 percent of those kids who are given a second chance end up doing well, graduating. They become successful in life,” he said. “But there are a few that the ‘second chance’ didn’t help.”

Founder of the Marching “100” and Director of Bands Emeritus William Foster acknowledged that hazing had been a problem in the band since the 1950s.

But, according to White, he was not hazed during his years in the band.

“We had to wear paper bags on our heads. We thought it was funny,” he said.

White also said he recalled having to eat last [in the cafeteria] because he was a freshman.

“I didn’t endure any harsh physical or mental hazing because I wouldn’t allow it to happen,” said White.