Florida A&M University said Thursday that its famed Marching 100 band will return to the field for the first time since its suspension after the hazing death of a drum major nearly two years ago.
The band had been one of the top university marching bands in the United States, but Robert Champion’s death and other reports of hazing damaged its reputation.
“We have made a thorough assessment of the students who have auditioned for the band and firmly believe that we are ready to return and positively represent Florida A&M University and its proud students, faculty, alumni and community,” Sylvester Young, director of marching and pep bands, said in a statement.
“We embark on this season reflective of the circumstances that led to the band’s suspension and are optimistic that this is a new day for the band and the university. Our goal is to support the mission of the university and use this program to recruit top scholars and elevate the stature of the university,” he added.
The band will perform during the halftime show at the MEAC/SWAC Challenge presented in Orlando, Florida, on September 1, and at other games during the football season.
The university stressed in the statement that positive steps have been taken since Champion’s death.
It created an anti-hazing plan that includes a revised student code of conduct, a new anti-hazing website, scheduled campus training and beefed-up procedures for reporting and investigating hazing allegations.
Champion was beaten on a bus after a November 2011 football game in Orlando, as part of a band hazing ritual. The 26-year-old died “within an hour” of the beating, medical examiners reported.
The Marching 100 was suspended shortly after his death.