Sheriff: FAMU death involved hazing; band suspended



ORANGE COUNTY, Fla.,None - Florida A&M University President James Ammons has suspended all practices and performances of the school's famed Marching 100 band until investigators can determine what led to a member's death last weekend.

The drum major suddenly died hours after the Florida Classic at the Citrus Bowl.

Ammons announced Tuesday that the school will form an independent task force to look into the death of 26-year-old Robert Champion. He was found unresponsive on a bus parked in front of a hotel Saturday night after the football game. He was vomiting and had complained he couldn't breathe before he collapsed.  

The Orange County Sheriff's Office revealed that hazing was somehow involved in the events leading up to Champion's death.

"The investigation indicated hazing was involved in the events prior to the 911 call for assistance," said Sheriff Jerry Demings.

The task force will exam whether there have been ongoing inappropriate band customs or traditions. The school has had problems with hazing in the past. Ammons said the school will cooperate with Orange County deputies who are investigating the death.

Orange County detectives said they are interviewing all 375 members of the band.

Champion may have been pledging the band's fraternity, which WFTV was told typically inducts new members after the highly anticipated Florida Classic halftime competition against Bethune-Cookman University. WFTV learned that Champion may have dropped his baton during that show.

School officials confirmed there have been seven reports of hazing in the last decade.

Three people were arrested in two cases and victims in other cases refused to prosecute, officials said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.