FAMU expels 4 students amid band major death investigation



ORLANDO, Fla.,None - Florida A&M University said that it's dismissing four students for their role in the death of a marching band member last month.

University President James Ammons referred to the dismissals in a memo he sent earlier this week to members of the FAMU Board of Trustees, but didn't specify what the four students did.

Ammons said the task force appointed to look into drum major Robert Champion's death won't begin its work until the criminal investigations are finished.

Authorities say hazing played a role in Champion's death, but they have not released any more specifics.

WFTV has obtained a copy of the letter.

Ammons said in his memo that the university has a zero-tolerance policy on hazing, then states: "I want to report that four (4) students have been dismissed from the University in connection to the Robert Champion incident."

The letter to those students said they endanger the health, safety and welfare of other students, calling their actions heinous and repulsive.

The four students have been kicked out of FAMU indefinitely for hazing and conspiracy surrounding Champion's death after the Marching 100 band performed at The Florida Classic at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando two weeks ago.

The 26-year-old Champion was found unresponsive Nov. 19 on a bus parked outside an Orlando hotel after the school's football team lost to a rival.

In the 911 recording released (listen to the 911 call here) on Thursday, an unidentified caller told the emergency dispatcher that Champion had stopped breathing and was unresponsive. The call showed Champion had vomit in his mouth in the moments before he died.

Gov. Rick Scott, who already has FDLE investigating, sent a letter to the state board of governors demanding every university re-evaluate its hazing and harassment policies.

"Our children go to our universities and we expect them to come back home," said Scott during a recent interview.

FAMU's band director, Julian White was fired as part of the fallout over Champion's death. Ammons also suspended the Marching 100.

White has documents that he says he sent to university officials over the years regarding hazing. But Ammons said in his letter to the trustees that he did not receive two recent letters from White regarding hazing until after the university had already fired him.

He also wrote that he met this week with a group of students who were protesting the decision to suspend the entire band. He said he has promised to meet with the entire band sometime this week.
Those four students are not allowed back on the campus, and based on the criminal investigation, there could be even more expulsions.

Ammons said in the letter that he could not talk much about Champion's death because of the "potential for lawsuits" but he also expressed concern about the negative publicity surrounding Champion's death. He said that he was trying to overcome past bad publicity regarding the university's handling of finances and its academic reputation.

"Preserving the image and the FAMU brand is of paramount importance to me," he wrote.

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