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Florida A&M marching band out another year

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida A&M University's marching band is being suspended for at least one more school year as officials try to cleanse the hazing culture that led to the death of a drum major, the school's president said yesterday.

University president James Ammons said the famed Marching 100 should stay off the field at least until a new band director is hired and new rules for the band have been adopted.

Eleven band members face felony charges in the November hazing death of Robert Champion, and two others face misdemeanor counts. The band has been banned from performing since soon after he died, and band director Julian White retired recently after it was revealed that at least 100 band members were not students when Champion died.

Ammons was already under pressure from many state officials, including Gov. Rick Scott, to keep the Marching 100 sidelined until other investigations into the band are completed. Several trustees told Ammons that they supported his decision.

Travis Roberts, 25, a clarinetist who has been on the band four years, said he agreed with the decision. "What do we do in that one-year process to make sure these things do not happen again?" he asked. "No one has taken accountability for what has happened. This thing didn't start only five years ago. This thing has happened the past 50 years."

Champion's death was just one of several hazing incidents in the past year. Aaron Golson, who was charged this month in the Champion case, had previously been charged with battery and hazing for allegedly beating band member Bria Hunter to initiate her into the "Red Dawg Order" -- a band clique for students who come from Georgia.

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