TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida A&M University’s famed Marching 100 band, which has performed at Super Bowls and entertained presidents, may not be playing anytime soon and the university is weighing options for the coming football season.
More than four months after the band was suspended following the death of drum major Robert Champion, the band’s fate remains in limbo.
University trustees heard a lengthy presentation on Wednesday about a more than $1 million deficit in the school’s athletic program. It was during that discussion that FAMU officials acknowledged they are looking at offering other entertainment at football games in case the popular band remains on hiatus.
President James Ammons suspended the band after Champion died following what police said was hazing while the band was in Orlando.
No arrests have yet been made in connection with Champion’s death although authorities turned over the results of their investigation last month to the state attorney’s office.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement also has an ongoing investigation into how the band’s finances were handled. An FDLE spokeswoman said earlier this week that investigation is still ongoing.
The Marching 100 band has been one of the main attractions for years at FAMU Rattlers football games.
But Champion’s death drew attention to the persistence of hazing inside the Marching 100. Since December seven band members have been arrested in connection to hazing incidents unrelated to Champion’s death. Just last week Ammons placed two music professors on paid administrative leave following allegations they were present while band fraternity pledges were hazed.
Ammons said Wednesday that until the investigations are complete he cannot say when the band will return.
“I think that information will be critical to us as we make a decision about how we go forward,” Ammons said.
Ammons, however, did say that the university was continuing to offer music scholarships to students who were members of the Marching 100.
Derek Horne, the FAMU athletic director, did not say specifically what type of entertainment the university would provide if the band does not return. But he said it would have to be attractive to both students and FAMU alumni.
Horne was questioned about the band because of a recurring deficit in the school’s athletic program. FAMU is playing Oklahoma in football this fall to generate money for the school. Ammons told trustees that FAMU may schedule additional games against other traditional college football powers in the next two years to eradicate the deficit.
Trustees are meeting for two days where they are also expected to adopt a new rule that requires all students and faculty to report allegations of hazing to police within 24 hours.