FAMU settles with family of drum major who died after hazing

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Florida A&M University reached a $1.1 million settlement Friday with the family of a drum major who died after being hazed by fellow band members.

The university agreed to name the marching band’s anti-hazing program after Robert Champion as well as place a memorial plaque dedicated to Champion in the school’s band room under the terms of the agreement reached with Champion’s parents, according to settlement documents. Of the $1.1 million, $800,000 will be paid by an insurance company and $300,000 will be paid by the state Department of Financial Services.

Champion’s parents agreed to drop the negligence lawsuit against the Tallahassee-based university. A trial had been scheduled to start next month.

The university also agreed to write a letter to Champion’s parents.

“On behalf of the FAMU Board of Trustees, please accept our sincere condolences and sympathies for the loss of your son, Robert Champion Jr., and please know that we are deeply sorry for your family’s, and the world’s loss of such a fine and outstanding son, brother, musician and individual,” the letter says.

Champion — of Decatur, Georgia — died after band members pummeled him with fists and mallets aboard a bus parked outside an Orlando hotel in November 2011. The hazing ritual, known as “Crossing Bus C,” was carried out after FAMU band members had performed at an annual football game with a rival.

Champion’s family says the university should have taken stronger measures to crack down on hazing by band members.

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