State report released in FAMU hazing investigation



ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - A new investigative report from the state on the hazing death of FAMU drum major Robert Champion was released on Friday.

Champion died during a hazing incident on a bus after the Florida Classic football game in Orlando in late 2011.

The report details how the school improperly dealt with a culture of hazing and lacked preventative measures and protocols.

Investigators found that officials at FAMU failed to follow state laws and regulations on hazing in the years leading up to the death of drum major Robert Champion.

A 32-page report from the Florida Board of Governors Inspector General’s Office concludes that the school lacked internal controls to prevent or detect hazing.

The report cited a lack of communication among top university officials, the police department and the office responsible for disciplining students.

Investigators said there was insufficient evidence to conclude whether university officials ignored allegations of hazing given to them by the former director of The Marching 100 band shortly before the November 2011 death of Champion.

FAMU officials said they have already made sweeping changes in the wake of Champion's death, which also resulted in the retirement of the band director and the resignation of the university president.

The report was released by the Florida Board of Governors, which oversees the state university system. It ordered the investigation after Champion was beaten by fellow members of FAMU's famed band during a hazing ritual aboard a charter bus parked outside an Orlando hotel.

While law enforcement officials ultimately charged more than a dozen band members for their role in Champion's death the Board of Governors inspector general's office looked at how FAMU officials handled hazing complaints during the tenure of former FAMU President James Ammons.

Investigators also tried to figure out what happened at a Nov. 16, 2011, meeting that was held just days before Champion's death.

Top FAMU officials at the meeting discussed hazing in the band and the possibility of hazing at the upcoming Florida Classic game being held in Orlando. The meeting was being held shortly after band director Julian White suspended nearly 30 students for the game due to hazing allegations.

Some of those at the meeting -- including former FAMU Police Chief Calvin Ross -- told investigators they had recommended suspending the entire band and keeping them from performing. But then-FAMU Provost Cynthia Hughes-Harris disputed that account and said that option was not discussed.

Champion's family has filed a lawsuit contending that the school failed to take action to stop hazing. That lawsuit cites the Nov. 2011 meeting as an example of inaction by top FAMU officials.

The report comes as a regional accrediting organization placed the school on probation for 12 months.