If everyone shielded Champion, then who landed the fatal blow?
caines | 6/20/2013, 6:30 a.m.
As much as we may want Florida A&M Universitys [FAMU] famous Marching 100 to be resurrected from the dead and allowed to participate next fall during halftime of regional area football games, there is still one cloud that continues to hover over the once-celebrated program: hazing. FAMU has cleaned house replacing both the former band director and the University president two men who, given their positions should have known what was going on. After all, as hundreds of Marching 100 alums will admit, hazing has been going on for a very long time at FAMU. Could Drum Major Robert Champions death have been avoided? Most certainly, had the right people come forward and demanded an immediate change in the status quo. However, it seems that the administration, alumni and students either looked the other way, or put their heads in the sand like the seemingly-ignorant ostrich. Last October, Brian Jones became the first of 14 charged with Champions death. Many, like Jones, withdrew their original not guilty plea, instead opting for no contest. Jones was eventually cleared of any felony charges, but admitted to holding Champion in a bear hug as he endured an onslaught of physical abuse from his bandmates. Circuit Court Judge Marc Lubet accepted Joness plea, saying that there was no testimony showing that Jones ever beat or hit Champion, even though he was present at the time of the beating. Since then, one defendant after another has stepped forward agreeing to a plea the most recent being Shawn Turner and Rikki Wills. Wills, Champions roommate, was sentenced last week to one year of house arrest and five years probation. The waters appear muddy but from our vantage point it appears that not one student has actually admitted to delivering the punches, kicks and drumstick strikes that led to Champions collapse and subsequent death. At this rate, maybe the last student standing will serve as the scapegoat. Champion is dead which means that someone is responsible, right?