*The unexpected death of Florida A&M University marching band drum major Robert Champion has been ruled a homicide according to USA Today. After being found in the back of a tour bus, the college student’s death looked like the result of a hazing incident.
The Orange-Osceola Medical Examiner’s Office determined that the 26-year-old’s death was the result of blunt-force trauma while he was being hazed, the Orlando Sentinel reports.
He “collapsed and died within an hour of a hazing incident during which he suffered multiple blunt trauma blows to his body,” the ME’s statement said. The Orange County Sheriff’s Office said it would soon meet with the state attorney to decide whether charges will be filed, the Sentinel is also reporting.
The report also says he was died within an hour of “a hazing incident during which he suffered multiple blunt drama to his body.”
Urban Meyer just got the new head coaching job at Ohio State University. His $4 million annual salary makes him one of the highest paid coaches in college football; Before he was fired from Syracuse University for allegations of sexual misconduct, assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine’s
salary was a reported $300,000; Before he was terminated last month Penn State Coach Joe Paterno’s salary was more than $1million. And Jerry Sandusky, Paterno’s retired underling accused of child molestation that led to the revered Paterno’s dismissal, made so much money as an assistant that he was able to take a lump sum pension payout of more than $148,000 when he retired in 1999 and still recieves $58,000 a year in retirement benefits. What do the salaries of these past and current college coaches have in common with the death of Florida A&M University drum major Robert Champion two weeks ago? Let me connect the dots for you.
While nobody has accused Meyer of anything illegal or immoral his salary and those of the other aforementioned prove that more value is placed on people and programs which are part of an institution’s cash-cow. If it wasn’t true college coaches wouldn’t command the salaries they do, college professors would get paid more than they do and the post-secondary education system would focus more on developing leaders with a moral compass instead of turning a blind eye to those who have little to no morals at all.
If it wasn’t true college administrators and local law enforcement would have chosen to protect the rights of underage victims instead of protecting their own reputations and those of their iconic coaches. And although police are still investigating the cause of Champion’s death after a FAMU football game, hazing clearly was a problem in the band. Before Champion’s death dozens of band students were suspended for hazing and four band members have been expelled since his death. But had FAMU’s president thought less about the money the band brought to the university through its paid performances and more about the well-being of students – before Champion’s death – he probably would be alive.
This is not an indictment of standout post-secondary athletic and music programs or the amount that college coaches earn. I’m simply pointing out the corrolation between their salaries and the aura of untouchableness that surrounds them beyond the sport they coach. Some people use their influence to empower. Others use their influence to victimize.
Before pointing the finger of blame and shame everyone should acknowlege their role in these tradegies. At 26 years old Champion likely was the oldest member of the Marching 100. So why he allowed anyone to haze him is beyond my comprehension. He already was in a leadership position as assistant drum major, and could have spoken out against the immature actions of his peers. And who actually pays those million dollar salaries that coaches get? Sports fans. They pay for overpriced game tickets, they buy overpriced sports paraphanalia and they contribute to the larger than life persona that some college coaches have. Sports fans are the reason that athletic and music departments are protected at the expense of innocent victims. Fans created this issue and they have the power to change it.
Steffanie Rivers is a freelance journalist. Send your comments, questions and appearance inquiries to Steffanie at firstname.lastname@example.org
*Poet and author Maya Angelou is not happy with a paraphrased quote from Martin Luther King Jr. inscribed in his new memorial in Washington, saying the shortened version makes him sound like an “arrogant twit” because it’s out of context, reports the Washington Post.
The words were from a sermon King delivered Feb. 4, 1968, at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, two months before he was assassinated, about a eulogy that could be given when he died.
King said, “Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.”
On Tuesday, Angelou, who consulted on the memorial, told The Post King would have never said of himself that he was a drum major, Angelou said, but rather that others might say that of him.
“He had a humility that comes from deep inside,” Angelou told newspaper. “The ‘if’ clause that is left out is salient. Leaving it out changes the meaning completely.”
Dr. Maya Angelou
Memorial planners said they were fond of the quotation but that it had to be shortened because of a change during the King statute’s creation. They originally planned to use most of the “drum major” quote but changed its placement, and sculptor Lei Yixin told them there wasn’t enough space.
“We sincerely felt passionate that the man’s own eulogy should be expressed on the stone,” said Ed Jackson Jr., executive architect of the memorial. “We said the least we could do was define who he was based on his perception of himself: ‘I was a drum major for this, this and this.’”
Project planners outlined the problem and their proposed solution to the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, which had to approve the memorial’s design. The federal arts panel did not object, Jackson said.
Angelou was one of the memorial’s Council of Historians tasked with selecting the inscriptions for the memorial. But she did not attend meetings about the inscriptions, Jackson said.
Two other memorial advisers were consulted, Jon Onye Lockard and James Chaffers of the University of Michigan. But Jackson said he ultimately had to make the decision. Lockard told the Post he was fine with the shortened inscription.
“If there’s any comment about anything, it’s late,” he said, noting others also have recently criticized pieces of the memorial. “I think it’s rather small of folks to pick at things. … This has been going on for 14 years, and all of them have had plenty of time to add their thoughts and ideas.”
Below, part 2 of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s final sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Feb. 4, 1968 (drum major quote at 8:04)