ORLANDO, Fla. - The battle of the bands is back on for the first time since the hazing death of Florida A&M University drum major Robert Champion. The renowned Marching 100 will be performing at halftime during the Florida Classic on Saturday.
The band is nearly half the size of what it used to be in 2011, when Champion was brutally beaten on a parked bus.
Field commander and senior Thaddeus Stegall said band members have grown stronger since being suspended with new anti-hazing measures.
"We're taking the things we learned and moving forward, making the university better and the Marching 100 better," said Stegall.
Robert Champion's parents have said they aren't happy the band's suspension was only a year and aren't convinced band members are safe from hazing rituals.
Fifteen people were charged in Champion's death with most of them striking plea deals.
However, it's clear fans are optimistic about the band's return to Central Florida.
"Everything FAMU has done and all the changes they've made has put the band in a better place than it was two years ago," said Angela Moore. Her son is a freshman in the band.
The Marching 100 has many new rules in place to deal with hazing. Members must be full-time FAMU students and maintain a 2.5 GPA. In addition, band membership has been capped at four years, to prevent the band from being as large as it once was.
Band practice times and locations are also supervised at all times by staff.
The Florida Classic starts Saturday at 2 p.m.
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