Conflicting Stories on FAMU Band Meeting

Three days before drum major Robert Champions November 19th death, notes from a meeting attended by high level FAMU administrators suggest then police chief Calvin Ross recommended suspending the band because of a spate of hazing cases being investigated by the FAMU police department.

The meeting was held in the office of then Provost Cynthia Hughes Harris.

Reporter: Was there a recommendation to suspend the band?

“No. There was not,” answered Harris.

Reporter: No one suggested it?

“There was not a recommendation to suspend the band,” said Harris.

Reporter: That’s different than someone suggesting it.

“I have no memory that a suggestion was made or was not made. It was an active discussion focused on our concern that we did not want anything negative to happen,” said Harris.

Retired police chief Calvin Ross didn’t return our calls, so we knocked on his door. He declined to be interviewed on camera, but he did confirm that the notes were accurate and the discussion of suspending the band did take place.

One thing is certain; no one in the meeting went to the university president and said there was a recommendation to suspend the band.

The former Provost says she is at a loss to explain the differing accounts of the meeting.

Reporter: And Dr. Kirby’s notes that suggest there was a recommendation or there was a discussion?

“I am truly unable to comment on that,” answered Harris.

The decision that was made that day was to give the band a stern lecture. Ross says he left thinking the message was not getting through to band members.

The attorney for retired band Director Julian White says his client also remembers discussing suspending the band, that White agreed with the suspension, but recalls that “no one in the room had the authority to make that decision.”