ORLANDO, Fla.,None - It could take up to three months to learn
exactly what caused the death of a Florida A&M University band
member who was suspected of being hazed, an official said
Robert Champion, 26, was found unresponsive on a bus parked
outside an Orlando hotel on Saturday night after the school's
football team lost to rival Bethune-Cookman. Investigators believe
hazing occurred before 911 was called. Champion was vomiting and
had complained he couldn't breathe before he collapsed.
Hazing cases in marching bands have cropped up over the years,
particularly at historically black colleges, where a spot in the
marching band is coveted and the bands are revered almost as much
as the sports teams for which they play. In 2008, two first-year
French horn players in Southern University's marching band were
beaten so they had to be hospitalized. A year later, 20 members of
Jackson State University's band were suspended after being accused
One of the worst cases involved a former band member at Florida
A&M University who suffered kidney damage because of a beating with
In the current case, no charges have been filed, but any death
involving hazing is a third-degree felony in Florida.
The exact cause and manner of Champion's death are pending the
autopsy results, said Sheri Blanton, a forensic coordinator for the
medical examiner. There is no timetable for getting the results
back, but most cases take 10 to 12 weeks, she said.
FAMU officials acknowledged that 30 students have been kicked
off the band this semester due to hazing incidents. There are
currently three investigations.
On Tuesday, officials at the Tallahassee school suspended the
famed Marching 100 band and any other ensemble that performs under
the supervision of the FAMU music department. The move affects more
than 400 students.
The Marching 100 -- whose rich history includes performing at
several Super Bowls and representing the U.S. in Paris at the 200th
anniversary of the French Revolution -- was scheduled to perform at
the fall commencement on Dec. 16.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)