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FAMU Releases Comment About Student Names

By: Eyewitness News, Mike Springer, Lanetra Bennett, Julie Montanaro, Garin Flowers Email
By: Eyewitness News, Mike Springer, Lanetra Bennett, Julie Montanaro, Garin Flowers Email

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — December 3, 2011 -

Names have been circulating in regards to the students suspected of involvement in the hazing of deceased FAMU drum major Robert Champion.

FAMU did not release the names in question and cannot confirm or deny that those were the students dismissed. The University is prohibited from releasing the names pursuant to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

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UPDATE December 3, 2011-12:52 p.m.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is asking FAMU and the Florida Board of Governors to stop their administrative investigations into the death of Robert Champion.

FDLE says it sent letters to both agencies Friday in order to preserve the integrity of its ongoing criminal investigation.

FDLE says both the Florida Board of Governors and FAMU have been cooperating with its request.

UPDATE December 2, 2011 - 5:10pm

Tallahassee, FL - Willie Gary has joined the legal team for Dr. White. Here's a comment from Chuck Hobbs: "Mr. Gary has been one of the top litigators in America for decades and I welcome his experience and expertise as co-counsel as we continue to seek redress for Dr. White."

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — December 2, 2011 -

Florida A&M University (FAMU) President James H. Ammons has postponed the work of a task force that he appointed to review anti-hazing regulations. The task force was scheduled to meet on Monday, December 5.

“Based upon input from the Governor’s Office and in light of the recently announced November 29 investigation by the Board of Governors, I believe it will be prudent to postpone the work of the task force to allow this and other investigations to be pursued with our full cooperation and attention,” said FAMU President 
James H. Ammons
.

Wednesday, December 30, President Ammons was in discussion with officials in the Governor’s Office. On Tuesday, November 29, Ava Parker, chair of the Florida Board of Governors (BOG), sent a letter to Solomon Badger, chairman of the FAMU Board of Trustees, notifying him that the BOG has asked Chancellor Frank Brogan to initiate an investigation to determine whether the university administration took appropriate action to address the hazing activities.

In addition to the investigation by the BOG, there is an ongoing investigation by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office and Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

“We will give the Board of Governors Office of Inspector General our full support,” said Ammons.

____________________________________

[UPDATE] Dec. 1 TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) --

Florida A&M University says it's dismissing four students for their role in the death of a marching band member.

Robert Champion was found unresponsive on Nov. 19 on a bus
parked outside an Orlando, Fla., hotel after the school's football
team lost to a rival. His death has sparked a criminal
investigation as well as a probe into whether FAMU has ignored past
warnings about hazing.

FAMU President James Ammons acknowledged the dismissal of the students in a memo he sent earlier this week to members of the FAMU Board of Trustees.

Ammons did not specify what the four students did but said that
their dismissals were connected to Champion's death. He also told
trustees that a group of students protested his decision to shutter
the Marching 100 while the investigation continues.

Complete 911 Tape

___________________________

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) --

The owner of the company that transported Florida A&M University band members says the driver did not hear or see any commotion on the bus before drum major Robert Champion collapsed and died after an apparent act of hazing.

Ray Land, president of Fabulous Coach Lines, says his company
has transported the "Marching 100" to many games and never had
any incidents of hazing or inappropriate conduct on the buses.

Land told The Associated Press Thursday the driver transported
Champion and other band members back from their game to the Orlando hotel where they were staying the night. She was helping students unload their instruments when Champion collapsed.

He said the driver is shaken up over what occurred and that
their experience with the band has always been positive.

_____________________________________

[UPDATE. Dec. 1 - ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) --

A 911 caller says a Florida A&M University band member had vomit in his mouth and nose in the moments before he died. Investigators have said the case is linked to hazing.

Audio of the 911 call obtained Thursday by The Associated Press
indicates that Robert Champion had stopped breathing and was
unresponsive at the time an unidentified man called the emergency
dispatcher.

The 911 dispatcher told the man to place Champion on his back
and clean the vomit from his nose and mouth. But the call was
disconnected before the caller could say if he was successful.

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

______________________________________

UPDATED 11.30.2011

Funeral services were held today for FAMU drum major Robert Champion.

Champion died after the Florida Classic in what the Orange County Sheriff is now investigating as a hazing death.

Champion's funeral was held this morning in his hometown of Decatur, Georgia.

The clarinet player was buried in his white drum major uniform with his baton by his side.

Both FAMU President James Ammons and now-fired band director Julian White spoke at the service.

There were five Marching 100 drum majors in uniform there too.

The pastor concluded his eulogy by saying "there will be no hazing up in heaven."
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[UPDATE] November 30, 2011 - DECATUR, Ga. (AP) - Noon -

Hundreds of mourners gathered at a sprawling church for the funeral of a Florida A&M University band member who died from suspected hazing.

The pews of Beulah Missionary Baptist Church in Decatur were
packed Wednesday with friends and family of Robert Champion.

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

Police say Champion, a clarinet player who recently was named
drum major, had been vomiting and complained he couldn't breathe
shortly before he collapsed. Authorities suspect hazing but have
not released any more details about what may have led to Champion's
death.

Champion's family attorney says a "culture of hazing" led to
his death, but he and Champion's relatives wouldn't discuss
details.

_______________________________

[UPDATE] November 30, 2011 - DECATUR, Ga. (AP) --

Friends and family of a Florida A&M University band member who died from suspected hazing gather for his funeral.

Robert Champion's funeral is set for 11 a.m. Wednesday at Beulah
Missionary Baptist Church in Decatur. The 26-year-old was found
dead on Nov. 19 on a bus parked outside an Orlando, Fla. hotel
after the school's football team lost to a rival.

Police say Champion, a clarinet player who recently was named
drum major, had been vomiting and complained he couldn't breathe
shortly before he collapsed. Authorities suspect hazing but have
not released any more details about what may have led to Champion's death.

Champion's family attorney says a "culture of hazing" lead to
his death, but he and Champion's relatives wouldn't discuss
details.

Champion is being buried in his white drum major uniform.

The other drum majors are in attendance at his funeral as well as Dr. Ammons and Dr. White.

______________________________

[UPDATE] Tallahassee, FL -- FAMU Press Release
November 29, 2011

FAMU President James Ammons issues statement regarding the investigation of the division of and compliance.

“These are very serious allegations because the Division of Audit and Compliance is the university’s principal organization for assisting the University in maintaining university-wide external and internal compliance with all applicable laws, regulations, policies, processes and internal controls. The university will do whatever it takes to sustain the highest ethical standards of professional conduct and integrity and will focus on making sure that we correct any areas of concerns that have been identified in the report. The University is also going to identify a firm to conduct a quality assurance assessment of the division and address any related concerns given the report findings. Due to the resignation of the former Vice President for Audit and Compliance, we also are working to identify someone external to the university to lead that division.”

James H. Ammons

President, Florida A&M University

---------------------------------------------------

[UPDATE] LITHONIA, Ga. (AP) - November 28, 2011 -

An attorney for the family of a Florida A&M University band member who died from suspected hazing says the university had a history and `culture of hazing.'

Attorney Christopher Chestnut made his remarks at a news
conference in Georgia on Monday. Chestnut is representing the
family of 26-year-old Robert Champion, who was found Nov. 19 on a
bus parked outside an Orlando, Fla., hotel after the school's
football team lost to rival Bethune-Cookman.

Police say Champion, a clarinet player who recently was named
drum major, had been vomiting and complained he couldn't breathe
shortly before he collapsed. Police suspect hazing but have not
released any more details about what may have led to Champion's
death.

Champion's parents say their son never told them about any
troubles with the band.

________________________________

November 28, 2011 - 10am -

FAMU President James Ammons will meet with former Attorney General Bob Butterworth in a closed-door meeting today at 11am.

_____________________________

TALLAHASSEE, FL (November 27, 2011) --

FAMU NAA Official Champion Statement

The Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University National Alumni Association (FAMU NAA) extends our heartfelt sympathy and prayers to the family of our beloved Drum Major Robert Champion. We stand ready to support Florida A&M University’s president and the appointed task force that is investigating the marching band’s practices and circumstances surrounding the death of Mr. Champion.

Under state law, the FAMU Board of Trustees (BOT) is ultimately responsible for implementing policies that govern the university and its leadership. No person, organization, or entity, outside the university president or the BOT, has the authority to dictate the hiring or firing process at this university. Therefore, we endorse only legitimate and administrative procedures required to bring deliberate and analytical conclusions to both the university and law enforcement investigations in progress, based on accuracy and facts.

We urge all educational institutions to use this tragedy as a teaching opportunity to prevent any action that can potentially harm and diminish the integrity of any institution or program. We call on all alumni, faculty, administrators, staff, and students to help us affect change that will yield positive results for generations to come.

For more than 124 years, Florida A&M University has been an institution of excellence for young people from all walks of life. The university has consistently been ranked number one in awarding baccalaureate degrees to African-American students in various majors. Established for more than a century, FAMU’s marching band has provided educational opportunities as well as international exposure for many talented students, and created leaders. The FAMU National Alumni Association has proudly supported the university for the past 110 years since the association was organized in 1901.

As official investigations into this tragedy proceed, we stand with the family of Mr. Champion and the university, prepared to examine the full scope of its findings and to support its recommendations. We support the mission of Florida A&M University, and in that spirit we support the care, development, and welfare of our most valuable assets -- our students. We support all actions taken for the betterment of Florida A&M University.

______________________________________

November 25, 2011 --

Information for Robert Champion funeral:

11 AM Wednesday November 30, 2011
Beulah Missionary Baptist Church
2340 Clifton Springs, Road
Decatur, GA

-------------------------------------------------

November 25, 2011 - (AP) --

An attorney says the family of a Florida A&M University drum major who died of suspected hazing will sue the school, according to the Associated Press.

Attorney Christopher Chestnut says the family of 26-year-old
Robert Champion is spending the holiday weekend planning Champion's funeral. The Atlanta resident 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.

Police say Champion had been vomiting and complained he couldn't breathe shortly before he collapsed. While the official cause of death hasn't been determined, law enforcement officials say they
believe some form of hazing took place before 911 was called.

Chestnut says Champion's family wants to raise awareness of the
issue of hazing in college bands. The school didn't immediately
comment on the attorney's remarks.
______________________________

UPDATE 11-24-2011

The allegations of hazing are also sparking possible new legislation. Members of "Policy for People" say they're preparing to propose a law to stop hazing altogether in Florida.

The law would be called the "Robert Champion Anti-Hazing Bill."

FAMU students say the bill would be different from current hazing laws in that it would encompass psychological aspects of hazing as well as the physical aspects.

The group plans to present the proposal next week.

----------------------------------------------------------

UPDATE 11-24-2011

Florida Governor Rick Scott has now asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to work with the Orange County Sheriff's Office to find out what happened.

Champion, 26, was found unresponsive on a bus parked outside an Orlando hotel Saturday night, November 19, after the Rattler football team lost to Bethune-Cookman. Investigators believe hazing was the cause.

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UPDATE 11-23-2011

Wednesday, the Florida Civil Rights Association called for further action by asking the governor and FAMU Board of Trustees to fire Ammons, assistants to Dr. White and the entire leadership of the Marching 100 program.

The organization said in a statement:

The current administration within the University and in the Florida A&M Marching 100 has created a culture of corruption that tacitly approves of the persistent and deadly hazing that occurs within the Marching 100 and Florida A&M University.

FCRA likened the situation to the scandal with the coaching staff and administrators at Penn State University. The full statement is attached above.

Under Florida Statute, any death that happens as a result of hazing is a third-degree felony.

----------------------------------------------------------

Updated by Lanetra Bennett 11-23-2011 6pm

A group of FAMU students say the firing of Dr. Julian White is a good first step in the right direction in getting rid of hazing on campus.

However, the students have other demands, too.

FAMU student Lucas Melton says, "Julian White, the director of bands for Florida A&M University, should be fired."

FAMU students say it's only right that that's what the university has done.

Melton says the death of Marching 100 drum major Robert Champion ultimately sits on the shoulders of Dr. Julian White.

He says, "He sits at the head of the Marching 100. So, everything that happens with that group is under his watch. He was asleep at the wheel."

Champion died Saturday night in Orlando after the Florida Classic Football Game.

The Orange County Sheriff says the 26-year-old was hazed.

Melton and other members of the grassroots student organization, Policy for People, demand that administrators suspend the Marching 100 for at least two years.

Melton says, "Since such events happened under his leadership, that he is responsible for them."

The students are also asking administrators to form a Truth and Reconciliation Board.

Jamaal Rose says, "To allow people to come forward about the things that they have gone through, past and present; allow them to be honest and up-front, because if we don't allow them to be honest and up-front, we will never get rid of hazing."

The students say they will officially present their demands to administrators on Monday.

The members of Policy for People also say they are preparing to propose legislation to eradicate hazing in Florida.

It would be called the Robert Champion Anti-Hazing Bill.

The FAMU students say the bill would be different from current hazing law in that it would encompass psychological aspects of hazing as well as the physical aspects.

The group plans to present the proposal next week.

-------------------------------------------------------

UPDATE 11-23-2011

Florida A&M University is taking action against its band director less than a week after drum major Robert Champion died under suspicion of hazing.

Late this afternoon, FAMU's President placed band director Dr. Julian White on administrative leave and issued a notice of intent to dismiss.

The letter issued to White cited "alleged misconduct and/or incompetence involving confirmed reports and allegations of hazing." Since White is a union member the university has to wait until December 22nd to fire him in order to give him enough time to respond to the notice.

**NOTE: A picture of the Letter for Intent of Firing has been attached above.
-----------------------------------------

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - November 23, 2011 -

Officials say it could take up to 12 weeks to learn what caused the death of a Florida A&M University band member.

A spokeswoman for the Orange County Medical Examiner's Office
said Wednesday the autopsy on 26-year-old Robert Champion has been
completed.

Champion -- a drum major -- was found unresponsive on a bus parked in front of an Orlando hotel after the FAMU football team's loss to Bethune-Cookman Saturday. He died a short time later at a hospital.

On Tuesday, university officials suspended the famed Marching
100 band from performances until an investigation into possible
hazing is completed. Law enforcement officials say they believe
some form of hazing took place before 911 was called.

The Atlanta resident had vomited and had complained he couldn't
breathe before he collapsed.

__________________________________

November 23, 2011 -

B-CU Apology to FAMU and Condolences to the Family of Drum Major, Mr. Robert Champion:

Bethune-Cookman University President Trudie Kibbe Reed and the Marching Wildcats Band Director Donovan Wells, on behalf of the entire B-CU family, offer their sincerest condolences to Florida A&M University and the family of drum major, Mr. Robert Champion, for their tragic loss.

Additionally, President Reed, Mr. Wells and the B-CU family, regret the inappropriate comments regarding FAMU drum majors made over the public announcement system at the Florida Classic game. On behalf of B-CU, the President extends apologies to the FAMU family and takes full responsibility for this incident. While these comments were made during friendly competition and were not intended to be malicious, we recognize that these words were insensitive and hurtful.

President Reed states that even in the stiffest rivalry and the spirit of competition, we must take note of words that heal rather than hurt.

President Reed vows to take this issue to the Florida Classic Consortium to propose a neutral screening of each team's scripts before the game begins to ensure that an incident of this nature does not happen again.

The B-CU family is distraught over the death of this young man and shares in the sorrow and the grief of his loved ones. The loss of this exceptional band member goes beyond the walls of Florida A&M and touches the hearts of every HBCU family member across the nation. We have all lost someone dear to our hearts and will keep the Champion family in our prayers through this difficult time.

______________________________________

UPDATE 11-22-2011 by Lanetra Bennett

FAMU's president suspended the Marching 100 indefinitely earlier in the day ... and is forming a task force to look into what he called "questionable practices" within the band.

FAMU students say it's tough to lose a fellow student ... and the thought of 26-year-old Robert Champion's death being caused by others makes it harder to swallow...

Champion--a drum major with the Marching 100--died Saturday night after the Florida Classic Football Game in Orlando.

Lucas Melton, FAMU Student, says, "It's very, very hard to deal with the fact that one of our own FAMU Rattlers, a student, a leader, a band major like Robert Champion actually died."

Tuesday, FAMU President James Ammons announced that he is suspending indefinitely any and all performances and engagements for bands and other ensembles under the Music Department including the Marching 100.

Jamaal Rose,FAMU Student, adds, "That in itself tells us that the incident was serious enough that through just conversation, they know that something went wrong, something beyond natural causes."

The Orange County Sheriff's Office says they do suspect hazing in Champion's death.

Dr. Ammons says the university is cooperating with the Orange County Sheriff's Office's investigation, and is urging students and anyone else to do the same.

Ammons says, "There will be no retaliation for anyone who fully cooperates with this investigation. But, there will be consequences for anyone who tries to impede it."

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UPDATED November 22, 2011 6:30pm

Here is a copy of Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings' remarks from a 4pm press conference on the death of Robert Champion:

Good afternoon. Thank you all for coming. I will only be offering a statement without questions, concerning the active criminal investigation, being conducted by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, into the death of Mr. Robert Champion who was a student and band member at Florida A&M University.

As you know, earlier today the FAMU President, Dr. James H. Ammons spoke during a press conference in Tallahassee to address actions being taken by the University. I, too, want to offer my sincere condolences to the family of Robert Champion.

On Saturday, November 19, after the Florida Classic Football game, the FAMU band returned to Rosen Plaza Hotel, located at 9700 International Drive in Orlando. At 9:46 PM, the Sheriff’s Office received an emergency call for service involving a man down. It was later determined that FAMU Drum Major Robert Champion had collapsed on a band transport bus.

Prior to being transported, Mr. Champion was administered CPR by another band member. He was transported to Dr. Phillips Hospital in Orlando and was later pronounced deceased by hospital staff at 10:36 PM.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office began a death investigation at that point. Since then detectives have traveled to Tallahassee and the investigation indicates that “hazing” was involved in the events that occurred prior to the 9-1-1 call for assistance. I will note that under F. S. 1006.63 any death that occurs as a result of hazing is a third degree felony. Anyone who participates in such events, can be criminally charged.

On Monday, November 21, an autopsy was conducted by Dr. Sara Irrgang of the Orange County Medical Examiner’s Office. The preliminary report is inconclusive as to the cause of death and Orange County Medical Examiner Dr. Garavaglia indicated additional tests are required before a final report can be issued.

At this time the investigation is continuing. I want to stress that we have received the full cooperation of Dr. Ammons and his staff in our investigative efforts. In the next few days or weeks, it will become clearer as to whether any criminal charges will be forthcoming. Our goal is to ensure that a complete investigation is done and that justice will prevail.
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UPDATE November 22, 2011 4:30pm

Orlando, FL - The Orange County Sheriff’s Office held a 4 p.m. press conference regarding their investigation into Robert Champion’s death.

That press conference ended moments ago and WKMG-TV says Sheriff Jerry Demings is going over the incident in which FAMU student Robert Champion died and says hazing is involved.

Orange County investigators are also on FAMU's campus working the case.

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UPDATED November 22, 2011 12:30pm

FAMU President James Ammons announced today that the Marching 100 will be suspended indefinitely as law enforcement investigates the death of drum major Robert Champion.

Ammons said, "We don't have all the facts at this time, but we'll get them."

Ammons discouraged students from participating in spreading rumors and encouraged them to cooperate with the investigation.

Ammons said any conduct that contradicts the university's ability to ensure the health and safety of its students will result in "serious disciplinary action."

Ammons says an independent task force will investigate what he called "any unauthorized and questionable practices" within the Marching 100. He says the task force is not trying to determine the "culpability of individual band members," but rather determine if there are "patterns of behavior" that should be addressed.

Ammons asked all students and anyone with information about what happened to Robert Champion on Saturday to report it.

Ammons said, "There will be no retaliation for anyone who cooperates with this investigation, but there will be consequences for those who impede it."

"This is a painful and difficult time for the Champion family and the Rattler family," he said.

President Ammons did not say Champion's death was the result of hazing, but he says there were allegations of hazing made to law enforcement.

"Hazing is illegal," he said, "I am committed to making sure we end this practice at Florida A&M University."
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November 22, 2011 - Noon

Florida A&M University President James H. Ammons announces that the Marching 100 will be suspended indefinitely, effective immediately.

Stay with WCTV for updates.

_________________________________

November 22, 2011 - 11:30am

Florida A&M University President James H. Ammons will be providing an update regarding the Marching "100" on November 22 at Noon. The briefing will be held in the President’s Conference Room (Lee Hall, Fourth Floor).

Stay with WCTV for updates.

_______________________________

Updated by Lanetra Bennett - November 21, 2011 6:20 p.m.

A medical examiner says it could take ten to 12 weeks before an official cause of death is determined in the death of a FAMU Marching 100 drum major.

Robert Champion died this weekend after a performance in Orlando.

Most people are used to seeing him out on the field.

But, Robert Champion's co-workers are used to seeing him at the FAMU Student Service Center.

But, they won't get to see the marketing associate again.

Ivy Houston says she worked with Champion for several years. She says, "When I heard the news that he died up there, I just couldn't believe it because once you see somebody, you just expect them to come back how they left. We were expecting to see him at work."

Champion died Saturday night in Orlando.

The 26-year-old was a drum major with the FAMU Marching 100.

The Orange County Sheriff's Office says he was found unresponsive on a charter bus at the Rosen Plaza Hotel after the Florida Classic Football game.

Scott Price was one of Champion's supervisors. He says, "He was definitely well-liked. He always brought a little bit of happiness to the cafeteria. Everybody was happy to see him."

Deputies say Champion had had trouble breathing that night and was throwing up in the parking lot of the hotel.

He later died at the hospital.

Houston says, "I was devastated when I heard the news. I was shocked."

She adds, "When he first became a drum major, he was excited and was inviting everybody out to come and see his performance, just wanted the whole staff to see him. He was so happy that he had made that step as a drum major."

The medical examiner tells us that the cause of Champion's death is still pending.

Deputies are investigating, but, say they do not suspect any foul play at this time.

Price says, "He was a wonderful young man. He'll be greatly missed."

FAMU has released a statement, saying: 'We are deeply saddened by this loss. Our hearts and our prayers go out to Mr. Champion's family. This is a major loss for our student body, the Marching "100" and the University.'

A memorial will be held for Robert Champion Tuesday, November 22 at Lee Hall at FAMU. It will start at six p.m.

------------------------------------------------

Tallahassee, FL -- November 20, 2011 -- 9:23 P.M.- Mike Springer

The Orange County Sheriff deputies are investigating the death of a 26-year-old FAMU drum major... found unconscious on board a bus after last night's Orlando Classic Saturday.

"It's hard hearing that he past away. I know it's going to be hard for the school this week," says FAMU student Jonathon Williams.

The news of 26-year-old Robert Champion's death spread quickly across campus Sunday.

"I was in shock. I was in shock. I know him from going to the cafe, every day," says FAMU student Christopher Smith.

Champion, a drum major in the FAMU marching 100 died Saturday night in Orlando. The Orange County Sheriff's Office says Champion had trouble breathing and began throwing up in the parking lot of the Rosen Plaza Hotel. Deputies say friends began performing CPR and called 911. Champion was taken to the hospital where he later died.

"This kid was a real leader and was respected with his peers there," says FAMU staff member Ray Bellamy.

"He was quiet. He always had music in his ear and he was just a cool person," says FAMU student Donald Mack.

Students say the band returned from Orlando around three Sunday afternoon and appeared visibly shaken by Champion's death.

"Normally we could hear them outside inside the building already, but we didn't hear anything. They were just moseying along, kind of sad looking," says Jaquasha Colon, FAMU student.

Champion's death remains under investigation. An autopsy will be performed in the next few days. But deputies do not suspect any foul play at this time.

The University released a statement saying, " "We are deeply saddened by this loss. Our hearts and our prayers go out to Mr. Champion's family. This is a major loss for our student body, the Marching "100" and the University."

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Tallahassee, FL -- November 20, 2011 -- 6:30 P.M.

The Florida A&M University (FAMU) staff says, the student body and staff is mourning the death of Robert Champion, one of the drum majors in FAMU's Marching "100."

"We are deeply saddened by this loss," said FAMU President James H. Ammons. "Our hearts and our prayers go out to Mr. Champion's family. This is a major loss for our student body, the Marching "100" and the University."

Champion, a music major from Atlanta, was one of six drum majors for Marching "100" band. He had been a drum major since spring 2010, and performed in the Classic's half-time show earlier in the day.

"We are in shock," said FAMU Band Director Julian White. "He was a very fine drum major who was of excellent character and very trustworthy. I had not told him yet, but he was slated to be the head drum major next year."

White met with band members this morning to inform them of Champion's death. The university will provide grief counseling for band members and other students at the university.
___________________________________________________________
Tallahassee, FL - November 20, 2011
Updated 12:30 PM

FAMU's band director, Dr. Julian White, told Eyewitness News that all university comments will come through Sharon Saunders. White said the band was getting on the road to return to Tallahassee, around 10:30 this morning.
_____________________________

Tallahassee, FL - November 20, 2011
Orange County Sheriff's Office Release
Updated 11:24 AM

The deceased in this case has been identified as Robert Champion. He was a drum major for the FAMU band.

After the game, the band returned to the Rosen Plaza Hotel (9700 International Drive) and Champion reportedly threw up in the parking lot and started complaining of not being able to breathe. His friends called 911 and administered CPR. He was transported to Doctor Phillips Hospital where he was pronounced deceased. Champion’s mother was contacted by FAMU school officials and notified of the death.

This is an ongoing investigation. There is no sign of foul play at this time.
_____________________________

Tallahassee, FL - November 20, 2011
Orange County Sheriff's Office Release

A member of the FAMU Marching 100 died in Orlando last night.

The Orange County Sheriff's Office says the 26-year-old black male was found unresponsive in a bus around 9:46 PM Saturday night at the Rosen Plaza hotel where the band was staying. OCSO says he died less than an hour later at the hospital. There were no signs of foul play.

The Marching 100 band was in Orlando with FAMU's football team for the Orlando Classic. The sheriff's office has not yet released the deceased's name. The investigation is ongoing.

FAMU’s chief communications officer, Sharon Saunders, said the university is waiting on more information from Orlando investigators before releasing an official statement about the student's death or identity.


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