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Florida A&M Band Director Fired Over Drummer's Death

Scott Cunningham/Getty Images(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- The embattled director of bands at Florida A&M University has been fired after a drummer in the school's Marching 100 died after a suspected hazing incident.

Four days after 26-year-old drum major Robert Champion was found dead on the band's bus after performing at a halftime show at a football game, university President James H. Ammons has announced the dismissal of Julian White, the longtime director of the school's famed marching band.

Champion was found unresponsive on the band's bus in Orlando, Fla., Saturday night, and later declared dead at Dr. Phillips Hospital. Initial results from the medical examiner were inconclusive, and the university is awaiting the results of an autopsy.

Police and former band members said that Champion was likely forced to walk through a gauntlet of fists on the chartered bus after the team's game in Orlando. Champion was reportedly vomiting and said he couldn't breathe before he collapsed and died.

In a statement released late Wednesday, Ammons explained the firing of White, who joined the university's faculty in 1972 and has been the director of the Marching 100 since 1998.

"While Dr. White has had a distinguished career in music education and administration within the university as director of bands, I did not feel there was competence involving reporting allegations of hazing within the department of music and the Marching 100," Ammons said, according to USA Today.

White said that he was given the choice to resign or be fired. His termination is effective Dec. 22, and until then he will be on paid administrative leave. He is barred from returning to campus.

Speaking with the Orlando Sentinel, Ammons made it clear that the university will not tolerate hazing of its students.

"We are serious: This has to stop," Ammons told the Sentinel. "The highest priority we have as a university is protecting the health, safety and well-being of our students."

A spokeswoman for the Orange County, Fla., sheriff's office told ABC News that investigators were conducting interviews with members of the school band, football team and others who were at the Florida Classic football game that night.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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