TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — A blistering state report released Friday contends that Florida A&M University officials failed to follow state laws and regulations on hazing in the years leading up to the death of a FAMU drum major.
A 32-page report from the Florida Board of Governors inspector general's office concludes that the school lacked internal controls to prevent or detect hazing, citing a lack of communication among top university officials, the police department and the office responsible for disciplining students.
But investigators said there was insufficient evidence to conclude whether university officials ignored allegations of hazing given to them by the former director of The Marching 100 band shortly before the November 2011 death of Robert Champion.
Larry Robinson, FAMU's interim president, said the university would officially review the report for any inaccuracies, but noted there were no new incidents detailed in the report. Still, he said the university would use the report to make sure that it had taken appropriate steps to prevent future hazing incidents.
"What I want to focus on is what we are doing at the university to minimize the chances of things happening again," Robinson said.
The report comes at a critical time for FAMU. Earlier this month a regional accrediting organization placed the school on probation for 12 months. The university has one year to prove it is turning itself around or its accreditation could be revoked.
FAMU officials say they have already made sweeping changes in the aftermath of Champion's death, which also resulted in the retirement of the band director and the resignation of the university president. The Marching 100 band remains suspended, but when it is reinstated band members will have to meet strict new eligibility requirements, including a minimum grade point average.
Robinson said that he still does not know when the Marching 100 will return. FAMU still has not picked a new band director, or hired someone for two other positions intended to help the university clamp down on hazing at the school.
The report caps a tumultuous year for the university, which has also endured a criminal investigation into the finances of the Marching 100 as well as the revelation that the university trustees were given false audit summaries by university auditors.
State University System Chancellor Frank Brogan stated in a memo sent out Friday that the problems detailed in recent months at the university "did not happen simply by accident, nor did they result from benign neglect."
"The problems that have permeated FAMU for more than a year were a direct result of action or inaction by FAMU personnel, who either had not developed adequate policies or simply did not enforce policies that were in place," Brogan wrote.
Brogan recommended that the Florida Board of Governors — which oversees the state university system — work closely with FAMU officials in the months to come and report regularly on the actions being taken.
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