FAMU's Marching 100 returns to Florida Classic for first time since hazing death

Robert Champion's parents demand justice and end to hazing

By Lisa Bell - Anchor

ORLANDO, Fla. - On the second anniversary of their son's death, Robert and Pam Champion were back in Orlando calling for an end to hazing.

The couple released balloons and prayed outside the Rosen Plaza Hotel on International Drive Tuesday night, hoping to raise awareness.

"We are determined to make sure that no other family has to deal with what we have gone through," said Pam Champion, Robert Champion's mom.

Champion died after a hazing ritual following the Florida Classic football game in Orlando in Nov. 2011.

The FAMU drum major had been severely beaten aboard a bus that was parked outside the hotel on International Drive.

The band was suspended for the 2012 season and will return to the Florida Classic for the first time since Champion's death this weekend.

So far, fifteen people have been charged in connection with Champion's death, but most have struck plea deals and were sentenced to probation and community service. Six people are still awaiting trial and some could face prison time.

"There was an opportunity to send a strong message and yet it was not," said Pam Champion.

Pam and Robert Champion Sr. also said they are not convinced that hazing has been eliminated at FAMU.

The Champions are now suing FAMU, the bus company and the bus driver, but have turned down a $300,000 settlement offer from the university saying student safety is their top priority.

"That's the biggest concern, students before money," said Pam Champion.

"We're not going anywhere," said Robert Champion Sr. "This is not going to be swept up under the rug and it be business as usual."

In January, FAMU released a 27-page report saying they were creating an anti-hazing plan, including adding as special assistant to the university's president to oversee the program. The university also set up an anti-hazing website for students.

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