4 Florida students dismissed in wake of suspected hazing death


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Gov. Rick Scott, (R) Florida, was in Naples, Fla. on Sunday, June 5, 2011 and talked with CNN’s Candy Crowley on State of the Union about drug testing welfare receipients.

CNN Wire Service

Four students were dismissed from Florida A&M University amid fallout from the suspected hazing-related death of a university drum major, director of media relations Pam Tolson confirmed Thursday.

The dismissal of the four was first announced in a letter Tuesday from university President James Ammons to the board of trustees.

“Further, 30 students were dismissed from the band prior to the Florida Classic,” Ammons wrote.

It was after that football game Nov. 19 that 26-year-old Robert Champion died. No reason was given for the dismissal of those 30 students.

Champion’s death has kicked off a firestorm of criticism surrounding university practices after officials said hazing was likely involved.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott Thursday called for a review of state universities’ hazing and harassment policies.

In a letter to the chancellor of the state university system, Scott said “hazing should be strictly condemned on our college and university campuses and by any organization associated directly or indirectly with our institutions.”

He asked Chancellor Frank Brogan to request that the state’s 11 university presidents also “remind students, faculty and staff of these policies and procedures and how potentially detrimental hazing can be,” his letter said.

Authorities have not specified what caused the death of Champion after the Nov. 19 performance with the Marching 100 band.

His family has said it plans to sue the school “to get answers.”

Several speakers at Champion’s funeral Wednesday in Decatur, Ga., described him as a kind person and a strong leader who was dedicated to achieving his goals.

“Robert gave us his all every time that he took the field. … Whenever Robert heard the sound of the drum, his knees raised, his toes pointed and he was on a mission to make the FAMU community proud,” said Julian E. White, who has led the 420-member FAMU band since 1998.

Ammons moved to fire White shortly after Champion’s death, citing “alleged misconduct and/or incompetence involving confirmed reports and allegations of hazing with the Department of Music and the ‘Marching 100.'”

White has hired an attorney to fight for his job and has said he did everything he could to put a stop to hazing.

Champion became ill at an Orlando hotel after performing in the Florida Classic. He reportedly vomited in the parking lot and complained of not being able to breathe, authorities said.

Champion was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said that hazing was involved in the incident, but added that authorities were trying to determine an official cause of death. Under Florida law, any death that occurs as the result of hazing is a third-degree felony.

After the death, Ammons suspended all band performances and said he would convene a task force “to determine if there are any unauthorized and questionable activities associated with the culture of the Marching 100.”