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Oklahoma football: Lamenting the demise of the Florida A&M band and the day the music died

COMMENTARY — The horrific hazing of the Florida A&M drum major last year continues to ripple. Some Oklahoma football fans may not know what they're missing this Saturday, but Oklahoma City's Kevin Cox does.
by Jenni Carlson Published: September 5, 2012

“A big, big, big bump in the road,” Cox said. “And not just for the band program.”

The incident has given the entire school a black eye. That's because the band is its bell cow. It is the thing that the rest of the world most associates with Florida A&M, and for decades, that's been great for the entire school. Because the band was in the spotlight, everything else benefited from the glow.

Then, the scandal hit, and it cast a pall on everything.

When the world thought of Florida A&M, it thought of the band hazing, not that the school was once named College of the Year by TIME Magazine and the Princeton Review or that it is the largest of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the nation or that it has alumni who are national leaders in government and business.

Alums like Cox watched during this past year as their school was sullied and vilified.

“It's been gutwrenching and beyond,” he said.

There was sadness in his voice.

Anger, too.

“I hope they have swift and fair judgment after what they did to my school.”

Sooner and Cowboy fans can relate to those hurt feelings. Remember those times your football teams have been punished for bad behavior? The negative press rubbed off on everything.

So it goes at Florida A&M.

Cox is still intensely proud of his school. He chose Florida A&M over several other schools when he was a senior at Bishop McGuinness High, and it's a decision he's never regretted. The political science degree that he earned there helped launch a political career that included more than two decades in the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

“That's my school,” he said, “and I'm not going to waver.”

This weekend, he'll host a reception for FAMU folks who are coming to town for the game.

He wishes that delegation could've included the band. He wishes it for his reeling alma mater, but he wishes it, too, for Sooner fans who will miss out.

“OU might beat us on Saturday ... ,” Cox said, “but we were going to win the battle of the bands.”

Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125 or at You can also like her at, follow her at or view her personality page at

by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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