*The president of Florida A&M University decided Wednesday to dismiss the school’s longtime band director in the wake of last weekend’s hazing-linked death of a drum major in the school’s famed marching band, reports CNN.
“The reason for this intended employment action is based upon your alleged misconduct and/or incompetence involving confirmed reports and allegations of hazing with the Department of Music and the ‘Marching 100,'” President James H. Ammons said in a letter to Julian E. White.
The letter, which was marked “confidential,” notified White that he was being dismissed effective Dec. 22 and placed on administrative leave with pay effective immediately. The letter, which gave White 10 days to respond to Ammons, was provided to CNN by the university.
White had led the 420-member band since 1998.
Wednesday’s dismissal comes four days after band members returned to their Orlando hotel following Saturday’s game. There, Robert Champion, 26, “reportedly threw up in the parking lot and started complaining of not being able to breathe,” the sheriff’s office said in a release. Champion was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
“The investigation indicates that hazing was involved in the events that occurred prior to the 911 call for assistance,” Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said Tuesday.
Under Florida law, any death that occurs as the result of hazing is a third-degree felony.
After the incident, President Ammons suspended band performances and said he will convoke a task force “to determine if there are any unauthorized and questionable activities associated with the culture of the Marching 100.”
“The purpose of this review is not to establish culpability of individual band members in this particular case, but rather to determine whether there are patterns of behavior by the band — or members of it — that should be addressed at the institutional level,” he said.
Ammons acknowledged that at least 30 band members were let go this semester because of possible involvement in hazing.
The Marching 100’s motto lays out “qualities to live by,” including “highest quality of character” and “dedication to service.”
In 2009, the band represented Florida in the parade for President Barack Obama’s inauguration.