The Florida A&M University marching band will remain on suspension through the 2012-2013 academic year while the school works to set new rules following the fatal hazing of a band member, university President James Ammons said in a conference call Monday with trustees.
"I was heavily influenced by the need to be respectful to Robert Champion's family as well as the other victims," Ammons said. "A young man lost his life, and others suffered serious injuries."
Authorities say Champion, 26, was badly beaten during a hazing incident on a band bus after a football game in Orlando last November. He died within an hour of the attack. Other hazing incidents that resulted in injuries to band members also have been reported.
Ammons said the band must be restructured, and the "limited time frame" between now and autumn is not enough time to accomplish that.
While the band will not perform until 2013 at the earliest, school officials will present their plan for reinstating the band at the June meeting of trustees, he said.
Champion's father, Robert Champion Sr., said, "Any step forward to end hazing will help."
Trustees who spoke on the conference call supported Ammons' decision.
"We need to ensure that excellence and respect is achieved not through brutality, but through honorable academic, talent-based achievement and leadership," trustee Belinda Reed Shannon said.
Trustee Kelvin Lawson called the announcement "absolutely the right decision at the right time."
The decision to continue the band's indefinite suspension comes the week after director Julian White, who had been with the prestigious band for 40 years, stepped down under pressure.
He was placed on paid administrative leave shortly after the hazing death of Champion, a FAMU Marching 100 drum major.
As recently as last week, White, 71, had asked for full reinstatement as director. His attorney, Chuck Hobbs, said last week that White had tried to root out hazing for the past 22 years.
White's resignation last week came days after Ammons told the trustees in a letter that about 100 band members were not enrolled at the school during the fall, CNN affiliate WCTV reported.
Of the ineligible band members, 51 of them and one cheerleader made the fateful trip to Orlando. All received a daily allowance for expenses.
"We are looking into per diems claimed by individuals as part of the band trips," Gretl Plessinger of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement told WCTV.
The ritual that led to Champion's death, called "Crossing Bus C," is an initiation process in which pledges attempt to move down the center aisle of a bus while senior members assault them, according to some university band members.
An autopsy found "extensive contusions of (Champion's) chest, arms, shoulder and back," and "evidence of crushing of areas of subcutaneous fat."
Thirteen people have been charged in connection with Champion's death. Eleven are facing felony hazing charges, and two others are charged with misdemeanor hazing.
On Monday, one of the students charged in Champion's death has agreed to accept a plea deal in connection with the hazing of another student, according to his lawyer.
Student Aaron Golson will enter a plea Thursday on a misdemeanor battery charge in the hazing of student Bria Hunter, Golson's atorney, Craig J. Brown said.