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Florida A&M student dies, band suspended

Nov. 22, 2011 at 9:29 PM

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Nov. 22 (UPI) -- Florida A&M's marching band will suspend performing while officials investigate the hazing-related death of a band member, the school's president said Tuesday.

FAMU President James Ammons said the school was creating an independent task force to look into "unauthorized and questionable" activities within the 375-member marching band, the Orlando Sentinel reported. The panel will try to "determine if there are patterns of inappropriate behavior within the culture of the band," Ammons said.

FAMU student drum major Robert Champion, 26, died Saturday night after falling ill aboard a bus parked outside the Orlando hotel where the band was staying. Orange County Sheriff Jerry L. Demings said Tuesday hazing was involved in Champion's death.

The sheriff said results of an autopsy Monday were inconclusive and more medical tests would be performed.

The FAMU band took part in the "Marching 100" performance at the Florida Classic football game Saturday. Afterward, Champion, a music major from Atlanta, threw up and complained of trouble breathing, and died later at an area hospital.

Ammons said information about the alleged hazing had not been confirmed but was turned over to Sheriff's Office investigators.

The Sentinel reported the Tallahassee school had received seven reports of hazing in the last decade and Julian White, the band director, said he had dismissed more than two dozen band members recently because of possible hazing incidents.

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