Dr. Julian White, the longtime and highly decorated band director of the Florida A&M University Marching 100, has been effectively fired following the hazing-related death of 26-year-old drum major Robert Champion. Champion's family now also plans to file a lawsuit against the university.
Champion died Saturday on the band's bus shortly after the band performed at a football game against Bethune Cookman. He had complained about shortness of breath and vomiting earlier in the day, and its believed that his death was a result of hazing.
Dr. White has now been fired following the incident according to CNN. He's been placed on immediate leave and will be officially dismissed on December 22nd.
White has lead the band, considered one of the best and most innovative marching units in the entire world, since 1998. During his career White received numerous Teacher of the Year awards, an NAACP achievement award, a Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership award, a Thurgood Marshall Outstanding Achiever Award, and a FAMU distinguished Alumni award.
White has not made any public comment, though several parents don't think White was the problem.
"Any time I alerted him to an issue, Dr. White was always responsive," parent Berlinda Johnson told CNN. "I do not think he had the support that he needed."
"I believe that he did the best that he could," another parent, Felicia Fabre, says. "I think that it goes further than just him. He had people working under him that need to be held just as responsible."
Hazing appears to have been prevalent in the band, and the practice is not uncommon in bands at historically black universities.
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Champion's family now plans to file a lawsuit, and hopes it brings attention to the issue.
Aside from lawsuits and dismissals, criminal charges could be forthcoming. Anyone involved in a death related to hazing in Florida could face third-degree felony charges.