If Robert Champion were a quarterback instead of a drum major,and Julian White were head coach instead of band director, the scene at FAMU would be very different today.
For all the unseemly behavior inside college football programs, it's hard to conjure a scenario in which the president of the university is still around more than six months after one of his players died at the hands of teammates during a ritualistic beating that was a long-standing tradition in the program.
But Champion wasn't a football player. He was a member of the FAMU Marching 100, the much-celebrated band that has performed at Super Bowls and presidential inaugurations.
And it took the university six months to get rid of White, the band director who retired earlier this month.
FAMU President James Ammons is still, inexplicably, at the helm.
If band were a sport, what happened at FAMU probably would rank as the worst collegiate scandal in state history.
Just look at the reasons other universities were disgraced.
The University of Miami got in big trouble over phony federal-grant applications.
Former University of Florida Coach Charley Pell left after he cheated by spying on opponents and improperly paying players.
Florida State was shamed after players accepted free shoes from agents. And Coach Bobby Bowden vacated a dozen victories in 2009 because of an academic-cheating scandal.
None were as outrageous as what has emerged at FAMU: a deeply-rooted, violent culture of hazing that some parents and students say administrators knew about and didn't stop.
Ultimately, the NCAA punished Miami, Florida and Florida State.
But there's nothing like an NCAA for college bands.
That means the same people who were in charge while the hazing festered will likely be in charge of cleaning it up.
"If the administration had the capacity or the desire to clean up this band, it would have been cleaned up," Christopher Chestnut, attorney for Champion's parents, said last week. "This president has demonstrated a lack of interest or ability to clean up this band. It's been six months, [and] nothing has happened. … A young man was murdered, and nothing has happened. No change."
And the institutional problems go back a lot further than the past six months.
Band members were paddled so hard in 1998 and 2001 that they suffered kidney damage. Just weeks before Champion died in Orlando after performing at the Florida Classic, another band member was beaten so badly she ended up in the hospital.
Administrators had lost control of the band to the point that 100 members on the roster of about 400 were not eligible because they were not enrolled in the required band class or weren't students at all. About 60 of the ineligible members traveled to the Classic.
Try to imagine the scandal if a quarter of the football squad at FSU or UF wasn't enrolled at the school. It would be, even by sports standards, a scandal of mythic proportions.
But Ammons appears to be hoping it'll blow over.
He even went on the road this month and assured a group of alumni in North Carolina that although the band is currently suspended at least through next season, it would return and always be a point of pride for the school.
"It was a difficult decision not to bring the band back," Ammons said, according to news reports.
Shutting the band down should have been done long ago, considering university administrators have long known about the violence that went on inside the Marching 100.
The difficult decision is whether FAMU's band should ever play again.
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