Chancellor: Don't Reinstate FAMU Band Yet; Ammons Responds

By: Brandon Larrabee, The News Service of Florida
By: Brandon Larrabee, The News Service of Florida

Tallahassee, FL -- May 11, 2012 --

Chancellor Frank Brogan called on Florida A&M University to continue the suspension of its Marching 100 band. FAMU President, Dr. James Ammons, responded to that call for action with a letter to Chancellor Brogan which is as follows:

May 11, 2012

Chancellor Frank Brogan
State University System of Florida
325 West Gaines Street, Suite 1614
Tallahassee, Florida 32399

Dear Chancellor Brogan:

First, I would like to thank you for your input regarding the conditions for reinstatement of the marching band at Florida A&M University (FAMU). You input will join a series of discussions we have held internally and with various external stakeholders. I really welcomed your letter because it provided me with the opportunity to gain a point of view from State University System (SUS) leadership.

I also want to thank you for the support that you have provided to FAMU while we address issues related to the loss of Robert Champion. Our hearts and our prayers continue to go out to his family and others adversely impacted by this situation. I know that many students, alumni and friends of the university have strong feelings about the band’s status for the fall. Our goal, however, is to do what is in the best interest of FAMU and to ensure the health, safety and welfare of our students. We will also do everything within our power to prevent similar tragedies from happening again.

As you know I will discuss this matter with the Board of Trustees at a called meeting on Monday, May 14, at 11:00am. Following this meeting, I will share with the Board of Governors and you what transpired.


James H. Ammons

cc: Dean Colson, Chairman, SUS Board of Governors
Solomon L. Badger, III, Chairman, FAMU Board of Trustees


Tallahassee, FL -- May 10, 2012 --

Chancellor Frank Brogan called on Florida A&M University to continue the suspension of its Marching 100 band on the same day that the band's longtime director retired in the wake of a deadly hazing.

Julian White's retirement announcement came two days after FAMU President James Ammons sent a letter to the board of trustees responding to 11 arrests of people involved in connection with the hazing death of drum major Robert Champion and outlining how about 100 band members were not enrolled in FAMU at the time of Champion's death.

Champion, 26, was allegedly beaten to death in a ritual hazing on board a charter bus during a band trip to Orlando in November. His death prompted university officials to suspend activities of the vaunted marching band while the investigation continued.

But in his letter, Ammons suggested he was considering allowing the band to resume its activities while the university's anti-hazing committee continues its work.

"Therefore, I have asked the Internal Crisis Management Team to speak with our supporters, such as faculty, student leaders, the alumni, the boosters and the Athletic Department, over the next two days to hear their input about the conditions for bringing the band back," Ammons wrote.

Ammons is scheduled to hold a conference call with the board Monday about the band.

Brogan responded Thursday, asking Ammons to hold off on reinstating the band while investigations continue.

The chancellor argued that the ongoing prosecutions in Champion's death, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement probe into "financial irregularities" inside the band, the work of FAMU's anti-hazing task force and questions about the enrollment issues were reason enough to hold back.

"Reinstating the band prior to these issues being resolved would side-step efforts under way, which could impact the band's long-term survival," Brogan wrote. "Reconciling these and other issues under investigation will ensure that the institution's operational priorities and controls are in place."

Brogan also said that he and the Board of Governors supported FAMU, but that the continuing revelations that have followed Champion's death were beginning to take their toll.

"At the same time, our concerns continue to mount regarding the ever-increasing body of issues that harm the institution, its students and, therefore, our State University System as a whole," the chancellor wrote.


FAMU’s Board of Trustees Schedules a Called Meeting

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida A&M University’s (FAMU) Board of Trustees has scheduled a called meeting for Monday, May 14 from 11 a.m. to noon to receive an update from President Ammons regarding the band. The call-in number is 1-800-309-9169 and the conference ID number is 81170434.

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  • by The Real Truth on May 18, 2012 at 05:16 AM
    Nate, be careful of how you respond regarding Athletics paying for the bands' traveling. If you recall, they are and always in deficit by millions, which means it isn't paid for by Athletics, it just may be paid for by state dollars until they realize what they are going to do at the end of the fiscal year. Bomber!!!!!! Clean administration, bring someone in that doesn't know anyone, and rebuild FAMU, do that they can live up to what they truly are, a great "black" historical college. Go Rattlers, boo Ammons and crew. Salary dollars wasted. But, if you are selfish, you will sit and keep letting your pockets get full until they fire you, instead of looking out for the best interest of the school. I guess money is the root of all evil!!!!
  • by Clint Location: Tallahassee on May 14, 2012 at 06:13 AM
    The letter is a prime example of the schools poor state. My 12 year old could have written a more professional letter. Poor content, poor grouping. Pittiful, just pittiful. If this is someone taking the lead..well you do the math, if you are not from FAM.
  • by Screets of Tallahassee Location: Dent Dunn Dewey & Dover on May 14, 2012 at 05:01 AM
    I read it in the paper that they officially reinstated the band and Dr. White. The article went on to praise University scholarship. It stated that only 110 of 157 students were involved with fraud and that should not deter the administration from starting back band activities. Murder Robert Champion was not brought up in the discussion. There is a nationwide manhunt for the guy in a Band Uniform on Dewey Street last week okaying a trombone and being hazed by 2 other "students"
  • by Kim J. Location: Southside on May 14, 2012 at 04:50 AM
    They do not tell about what woman initiations were to be in the Band. They keep it quiet while we have to drop put of school. Why didn't they investigate this sooner? I just read the news about disbanding the band. It is sad because my baby daddy will have to get unemployment which they just cut back too.
    • reply
      by Dee on May 14, 2012 at 08:40 AM in reply to Kim J.
      which is why it's a good idea to finish school BEFORE you start popping out illegitimate kids! Better yet get married so they're NOT illegitimate.
  • by Truth Location: Tally on May 14, 2012 at 03:27 AM
    FAMU fraternities as well as the band are well known for extremly violent hazing. The entire school is full of crooks as every 3-4 years there is a new scandle out of FAMU involving money being stolen. FAMU it self should be closed down for good as it is a rotten institution.
  • by The Truth Location: Tallahassee on May 13, 2012 at 07:00 PM
    Everyone on that bus should be charged with Murder. They sat and did nothing to stop the beating from happening. This was not hazing this was someone being beat to death! Close this place down.
  • by Just Saying Location: Tallahassee on May 13, 2012 at 06:52 PM
    Always heard that you could buy a degree from FAMU. I hope I never have to see the vulgar routines the so called band performs, so disgusting. Almost as disgusting as them walking around with their pants to their knees with their nasty underwear hanging out. They need to take some of the taxpayers money and go buy some class!If they know what that is.
    • reply
      by HMA on May 13, 2012 at 07:47 PM in reply to Just Saying
      I have personally seen a Pharmacy Degree that was bought some years ago by student who failed / dropped out after a few quarters and know of several others, (not all Pharmacy). I was told that the price paid in the late 70's was $10,000. I think that the practice was stopped in the 80's.
  • by Elijah Location: Atlanta on May 13, 2012 at 05:30 PM
    Will you guys get a grip! While we are sorry for what happened. This incident does not make FAMU a terrible institution. I can point to many negative situations have happened at many universities across this great country and the institution is still thriving. FAMU in continue to produce many great students that will become productive citizens. Clean up your life and your family before you cast stones. Every institution has problems and so does FAMU. Why don't you go aross the tracks see all of the doped up and drunken students walking around FSU's campus. I'm sorry you might consider that "a little white party" GET A LIFE!!!
    • reply
      by FAMU Sucks! on May 13, 2012 at 06:51 PM in reply to Elijah
      FAMU is corrupt. FAMU is a thug hostile. FAMU is a waste of time and space, and tax payer dollars.
  • by roger on May 13, 2012 at 12:13 PM
    Retired before he got canned...Charge this guy with accessory to murder and take away his retirement...another idiot stealing our (tax payer) money
  • by question on May 13, 2012 at 10:39 AM
    is it possible the non student members of the band could be getting a cut of financial aid somehow? Or any other "student" benefits? Shared with certain faculty?
    • reply
      by Dee on May 14, 2012 at 08:33 AM in reply to question
      The possibilities are endless, which makes this situation so troubling.
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