Robert Champion died in 2011 after a hazing ritual so brutal that he was killed and left to die on a band bus. Initial investigation revealed that fellow band members were involved in his death. According to a Mar. 4 article in the Star Tribune, police originally charged ten band members with lesser charges of felony hazing. Authorities have now added two more band members and all twelve now face the more serious manslaughter charges.
According to a Mar. 4 AP report, Florida A&M faced Bethune-Cookman in their annual face-off before Champion was attacked on the band bus. Bruises indicated he suffered such serious injuries to his chest, arms, shoulder and back that he died from internal bleeding. The beating occurred after the game and on a bus parked at a hotel parking lot. Witnesses said Champion was vomiting before he was found, unresponsive and still on the bus.
According to a May 15, 2012 CNN article, witnesses called the fatal ritual "Crossing Bus C." The ritual forced pledges to make their way down the center aisle of a bus while senior members beat and assaulted them.
Last May, the school's president put the band on suspension for the entire 2012-2013 school year while officials figured out how to establish new rules for the organization. The band took criticism well before Champion's death, when other students complained of hazing so severe that they took on injuries.
The bands director of forty years was 71 years old. Julian White stepped down under extreme pressure, but later made an unsuccessful attempt to regain his position.
The Washington Times reported the results of a yearlong investigation on Dec. 28, 2012. The investigators concluded that Florida A&M officials did not follow state laws and regulations designed to control hazing. A 32-page report said that the school did not even have systems in place to detect or prevent hazing.
Also in December 2012, a regional accrediting organization placed the school on probation. The probation is for one year, but if the school fails to prove it has repaired its problems, it could lose accreditation.